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whale strikes


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I have just come back from a cruise and on that crusie i went for a bridge tour and askes a question.

 

"How does the shipn avoid hitting marine life"?

 

There was no real answer apart they they stay out ok know breeding grounds, but this led me to look on the web regarding known incidents.

 

I am not affiliated with any organisation and was just curious.

 

Apparently this is a major problem and fast moving ships like ferrys and cruise ships do hit and ieither kill whales or injure them quite often.

 

This both upset me and surprised me. I wonder if people relize this problem exists?

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  • 1 month later...
"How does the shipn avoid hitting marine life"?

 

I'm not trying to be flip about this, or unconcerned about the problem, but it's simply not always possible. A large ship encountering an obstacle--whether it's rocks, fish, porpoises, another ship, or whatever--is going to plow right through if there's not sufficient time to make a course correction. By the same token, large things like whales occasionally run into small things like sailboats; I was pitched out of my bunk late one night by such an encounter off Catalina Island in 1978 and the helmsman (fortunately wearing a harness tethered to the boat) was knocked overboard. The thing that saddens me is the number of Manatees maimed and killed by small powerboats in South Florida each year.

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  • 2 weeks later...

No you right its difficult to rule out it happening.

 

I didn't realize it happened to be honest. I think its more common with fast moving ships like ferries and crusie ships.

 

What would be nice to know is that cruise companies are aware of this potential problem at take cautionary measures to reduce the risk of it happening.

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  • 3 weeks later...
No you right its difficult to rule out it happening.

 

I didn't realize it happened to be honest. I think its more common with fast moving ships like ferries and crusie ships.

 

What would be nice to know is that cruise companies are aware of this potential problem at take cautionary measures to reduce the risk of it happening.

 

I agree; I would just like to know the cruise companies are aware, also.

Whale-watching is on my life list of things to do (and I haven't done it yet). Next cruise, maybe....

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there have been some very disturbing photographs of cruise ships coming into port with dead whales draped across the bow...ship strikes are a major cause of mortality for northern right whales, which are slow-moving and critically endangered. I am also aware of whale strikes involving gray, fin, and humpback whales...

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  • 1 month later...

Sad. Very sad.

I knew it was too good to be true.

Looks like the cruise lines that keep building bigger and bigger ships are headed in the wrong direction.

All the more reason to stick to cruise lines with small ships.

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FYI, a web site from NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) on whale strikes and cruise ships (among other things):

 

http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/pdfs/shipstrike/ss_speed.pdf .

 

There are many other related articles if you go to the www.nmfs.noaa.gov search function and put in "Whales" AND "Cruise Ships".

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This is horrible. I did not realize that the cruise ship swere killing whales and coming back to port with them stuck to the front of the ships.

They should stop the cruise ships immediatly. Porple should not go on cruises that kill whales.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Here's what I surmise regarding why whale watching boats appear to strike more whales than other boats:

The pilot of a large vessel speeding through the night ocean might not ever be aware of hitting a whale or other sea being. Whale watching ships are much smaller than cruise ships and container ships, plus, because everyone on board came to specifically "watch", there is an entire boatload of witnesses to any event, so whale watching vessels are probably much more likely to know they hit a whale and/or report the incident. Also, it may be that whale watching boat operators care more about the whales and are less likely to "hit and run", i.e., try to get away with it, i.e., ignore it. Of course a cruise line has to acknowledge that they hit/killed a whale when the animal arrives impaled on the bow in port!

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Has anyone stopped to think that the whales that may be hit MAY BE ILL in the first place??? They can outswim any of the cruise ships, and they have sonar to locate large objects so they do not colide. I am not saying it is not sad, however there may be a reason for these hits,and maybe the end was near or maybe they were already dead in the first place. I would venture to guess that more wildlife is killed by motor vehicles that are much smaller than a cruise ship each year and I do not here anyone trying to ban them or boycot their use. Maybe we should all go back to walking, riding horses, and row boats- Oh wait we may step on an endangered worm!

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For some whales, such as the fast-moving fin whales, many strikes probably do involve sick or injured individuals. Unfortunately, the critically endangered northern right whales are very slow moving, and spend a lot of time at the surface...and therefore are especially vulnerable to ship strikes; this is thought to be the primary reason their numbers have not rebounded in the same way that other species have. And no, they cannot outswim a fast moving ship!!

 

I would venture to guess that more wildlife is killed by motor vehicles that are much smaller than a cruise ship each year and I do not here anyone trying to ban them or boycot their use. Maybe we should all go back to walking, riding horses, and row boats- Oh wait we may step on an endangered worm!
no one is seriously suggesting a ban on all ship traffic, but that does not mean we should ignore the issue. Certain measures are already in place, including limiting speed and rerouting shipping traffic whenever possible when right whales are known to be present. What could possibly be wrong with trying to minimize this serious problem?
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Very interesting white paper. I have seen some of the photos and they are indeed sad. However, I will not stop cruising as a result of an accident. Lines that go barreling through breeding grounds (none that I am aware of) and that type of reckless behavior would certainainly be avoided but I do not think that is the situation.

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  • 3 months later...
Has anyone stopped to think that the whales that may be hit MAY BE ILL in the first place??? They can outswim any of the cruise ships, and they have sonar to locate large objects so they do not colide.

 

I was thinking the same thing. They can move quite fast when they need to. In all of the cruises we've been on, we have only seen whales a couple of times from the ship and they have been far off.

 

In Mexico our captain told us that boats caught chasing whales can be confiscated.

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  • 2 months later...
This is horrible. I did not realize that the cruise ship swere killing whales and coming back to port with them stuck to the front of the ships.

They should stop the cruise ships immediatly. Porple should not go on cruises that kill whales.

 

Most of the time, no one notices the whale because it is draped accross the bulbous bow under water. And despite how big the whale is, the larger cruise ships' maneuvering may not be significantly affected by it so no one notices until it pulls into a port.

 

A couple of incidents, necropsies were done on the whale and it was discovered the ship merely 'scooped up' an already dead whale.

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  • 2 years later...

On a HAL cruise to Alaska last June, we were told that they try to avoid using the stabilizers when ever possible to minimize the chance of a whale strike. Stabilizers are retractable fins that stick out from the sides of the hull below the water line. They are used to minimize rolling and pitching in rougher water and to reduce sea sickness.

 

One of the rangers on board in Glacier Bay told me that several weeks before, the captain felt a thud and had asked the ranger to check the bow of the ship to see if they had struck a whale. The hadn't, but a while later they found out that there had been a 5.0 earthquake in the area and they think that it was the cause of the thud that they felt.

 

The rangers job in Glacier Bay was to record any animal interactions with the ship. They want to record what kind of an impact the ships are having with the wildlife in this ecologically sensitve area. If a seal or birds are disturbed off an ice floe because of the wake of the ship then it is noted. It was quite interesting and he was able to point out bears and other wildlife that I had completely missed.

 

N.

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  • 8 months later...

I'm an (aerospace) engineer by trade, but bioacoustics (particulary wrt marine animals) is a hobby...

 

I had an NGO chapter here in Central FL, working on engineering solutions for ship-strikes (and debris that causes entanglements). I had had a project (&, presented proposals at my work) to work w universities on why strikes occur and the best methodology to mitigate them.

 

Manatees' hearing thresholds are often outside those frequencies of boat motors...this means, they simply can't hear them coming. In addition, there is a phenomenon called "shadowing" whereby ships (large/small, etc) are essentially silent in front of their bows. Now, I won't go into the acoustics, but imagine if you are a whale in front of a large barge/cruise/container ship & all its sound is masked/attenuated...some ship-staff aren't even aware of this phenomenon...Yes, the sonar from the ship may detect the whale, but I've witnessed instances where (usually container ships & personal watercraft) ignore such information; when marine-animals' distributions are suspected/known, NOAA (at least in US waters), will send a signal/alert/warning to mariners. If the mariner causes either a "close-call" (w/in 500 ft of animal) or strike, NWS law enforcement will fine the perpertrator.

 

Also, whales sleep at the surface...very precarious...I had proposed using one of our UAVs to monitor, either infrared or SAR, to detect & create a potential distribution of Northern Right Whales...due to gov't budgets, I was unable to continue w the project. Please know, however, some universities and the US Navy are attempting similar projects to better protect marine fauna.

 

Please know that most of the Northern Right Whale mortalities are due to ship strikes to their mandibles (and, entanglements). Most of the perpertrators were foreign-flagged vessels (they either pay the fines or ignore...) and surprisingly, personal water craft. I have heard (don't have the statistics to support this hearsay) that blue whales near the Sri-Lankan coast also have high mortality due to ship strikes...it's a tough problem to solve, internationally; unfortunately. :(

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Dr Chris Clark (Cornell U) has been instrumental in the passive acoustic arrays near Boston. When these arrays are "activated" (have a "ping" from a whale), an automatic notice is desiminated on the Whale Alert (there's an app for that!) w approx location, time, and how many animals were in the vicinity. This system is online during the time Northern Right Whales are in the area (approx April - October).

 

Near Jacksonville, FL, another array has been set up (but, I believe is disabled at this time due to funds). Northern Right Whale females calve b'n Jacksonville and Kennedy Space Center, litorally (along the shallow shores), but may be present out 85 nmis. Females and calves do not use their echolocation in this vicinity (during Oct - Apr) so as to reduce predators. So, I believe another rationale for disabling these arrays is that the animals don't make many sounds when south.

 

Right Whales don't swim that fast. Their typcial cruising speed (& they only do that during migration) is about 1 nmi/hr. They've been recorded up to 7 nmi/hr, for short durations, but only during migration.

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