Study

Behavioral responses of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) to whale-watching vessels on the southeastern coast of Australia

  • Published source details Stamation K.A., Croft D.B., Shaughnessy P.D., Waples K.A. & Briggs S.V. (2010) Behavioral responses of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) to whale-watching vessels on the southeastern coast of Australia. Marine Mammal Science, 26, 98-122

Actions

This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Introduce and enforce regulations for marine and freshwater mammal watching tours

Action Link
Marine and Freshwater Mammal Conservation
  1. Introduce and enforce regulations for marine and freshwater mammal watching tours

    A controlled study in 2002–2003 and 2005 in a pelagic area in the South Pacific Ocean, Australia (Stamation et al. 2010) found that when whale-watching vessels followed regulations for approaching whales, fewer humpback whale Megaptera novaeangliae pods avoided vessels and fewer pods with calves slipped under the water surface compared to when vessels did not follow regulations, but diving behaviours did not differ. A lower percentage of whale pods with or without calves avoided vessels when regulations were followed (combined total with and without calves: 16 of 137 pods, 12%) than when they were not (17 of 67 pods, 25%). ‘Slip-under’ rates were lower for pods with calves (but not pods without calves) when vessels followed regulations than when they did not (data not reported). Diving behaviours (dive rates, blow rates, average dive times, average blow intervals and the percentage of time spent submerged) did not differ significantly for whale pods with or without calves when vessels did or did not follow regulations (data not reported). In September–November 2002, 2003 and 2005, five commercial vessels (12–16 m long, carrying 23–72 passengers) conducted 98 whale-watching tours. Regulations required vessels to maintain minimum approach distances of ≥200 m for pods with calves and ≥100 m for pods without calves. An onboard observer recorded the behaviour of whale pods during tours that followed regulations (total 137 pods) or did not follow regulations (total 67 pods).

    (Summarised by: Anna Berthinussen)

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