WhaleWatch Aims to Reduce Number of Whales Entangled and Hit

In their annual round-trip migrations along the North American coast, Gray whales come into contact with numerous threats. (Image: Helen Bailey)

Researchers are working to identify seasonal and geographical whale migration trends in hopes that the data will help policymakers provide better protection for Gray whales and endangered whale species.

WhaleWatch is a collaboration between University of Maryland, Oregon State University, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service.

A first step in reducing these threats to whales is to have a better understanding of where the whales go. We will be analyzing the largest satellite tracking dataset for large North Pacific whales and combining it with satellite-derived environmental data to provide us with key information on where and when the whales are found and why.”

— Dr. Helen Bailey WhaleWatch project leader, Center for Environmental Science, University of Maryland

While Gray whales are most often hit by ships or entangled in nets, satellite-monitored tags were also attached to three endangered species — blue whales, fin whales and humpback whales — for the study.

Data from the tags and whale migration models will help researchers to pinpoint high-risk areas off the West Coast of the United States so policymakers can develop effective conservation policies.

Currently in the first of three years of development, plans for WhaleWatch include its availability on the NOAA web site.

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Learn more at http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-05/uomc-ws052212.php

© Tony Leininger and IT for Good 2012. See sidebar for full copyright notice.

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