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An empirical assessment of avoidance of whale alarms by migrating humpback whales

Preventing Marine Mammal Entanglements

A new type of whale alarm was proposed to deter migrating Humpback Whales from shark nets and fishing gear, in an attempt to avoid entanglement. This project investigated the alarm effectiveness.  Alarms were installed in the direct path of migrating whales and all visible whales were tracked (2012-2013). Independent analysis of whale movements with respect to alarm on/off status suggests little or no impact. A modified alarm system was developed as a result of this work, and tested, again there was no evidence of avoidance. 

Project Partners:

Taronga: Dr David Slip
Macquarie University: Prof Rob Harcourt
NSW Office of Environment and Heritage: Geoff Ross                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     NSW Department of Primary Industries: Dr Vic Peddemors



Pirotta, V., Slip, D., Jonsen, I.D., Peddemors, V., Cato, d.H., Ross, G.A., Harcourt, R. Migrating humpback whales show no detectable response to whale alarms off Sydney, Australia. Endangered Species Research. DOI: 10.3354/esr00712.

Harcourt, R., Pirotta, V., Heller, G., Peddemors, V., Slip, D. (2014) A whale alarm fails to deter migrating humpback whales: an empirical test. Endangered Species Research, 25: 35-42. 


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