Enhancing the visibility of fishing ropes to reduce right whale entanglements

  • Published source details Kraus S., Fasick J., Werner T. & McCarron P. (2014) Enhancing the visibility of fishing ropes to reduce right whale entanglements. National Marine Fisheries Service, Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program report.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Increase visual detectability of fishing gear for mammals

Action Link
Marine and Freshwater Mammal Conservation
  1. Increase visual detectability of fishing gear for mammals

    A study in 2013 at a pelagic site in Cape Cod Bay, USA (Kraus et al. 2014) found that simulated ropes painted red or orange were detected by North Atlantic right whales Eubalaena glacialis at greater distances than ropes painted green but not black, and more whales collided with green ropes than the other three rope colours. Changes in the behaviour of right whales approaching the ropes occurred at greater average distances from red ropes (3.9 m) and orange ropes (4.1 m) than green ropes (1.9 m). The difference was not significant between black ropes (3 m) and the other three rope colours. More whales collided with green ropes (total seven whales) than the other three rope colours (total 2–3 whales), although the difference was not tested for statistical significance.  A row of four simulated vertical ropes (spaced 25 m apart) were placed 75–100 m in front of whales travelling near the water surface. Ropes consisted of 10-foot sections of rigid PVC pipe (1-inch diameter) painted red, orange, green or black and suspended between a weight and a buoy. Whales were observed from a stationary boat. Changes in the behaviour of whales (including respiration, mouth closures, submergence times, and turning angles) within 10 m of the ropes were recorded by video 52 times during nine days in 2013. Distances were measured with a laser range finder.

    (Summarised by: Anna Berthinussen)

Output references
What Works 2021 cover

What Works in Conservation

What Works in Conservation provides expert assessments of the effectiveness of actions, based on summarised evidence, in synopses. Subjects covered so far include amphibians, birds, mammals, forests, peatland and control of freshwater invasive species. More are in progress.

More about What Works in Conservation

Download free PDF or purchase
The Conservation Evidence Journal

The Conservation Evidence Journal

An online, free to publish in, open-access journal publishing results from research and projects that test the effectiveness of conservation actions.

Read the latest volume: Volume 19

Go to the CE Journal

Discover more on our blog

Our blog contains the latest news and updates from the Conservation Evidence team, the Conservation Evidence Journal, and our global partners in evidence-based conservation.

Who uses Conservation Evidence?

Meet some of the evidence champions

Endangered Landscape Programme Red List Champion - Arc Kent Wildlife Trust The Rufford Foundation Save the Frogs - Ghana Bern wood Supporting Conservation Leaders National Biodiversity Network Sustainability Dashboard Frog Life The international journey of Conservation - Oryx British trust for ornithology Cool Farm Alliance UNEP AWFA Butterfly Conservation People trust for endangered species Vincet Wildlife Trust