Plants and Animals

This Stressful Animation Shows How Difficult It Is For Whales To Avoid Fatal Vessel Strikes

Going by the body of water, the sea is quite Philippines’ huge in After occupying all these wet real estate, you might think that boats and whales living in happy isolation from each other could be easier – but recent reports have served as a memorable reminder that It didn’t happen. In February, in a week’s time, some disturbing information about the movement of a blue whale published, showing ships disappearing into the waters of Patagonia and backwards. This did not include recreational vessels, only heavy shipping traffic.

Blue whales can be undesirable, spending much deeper time in the ocean before heading to the surface for feeding. This lifestyle puts them at risk of large ships with heavy-duty pilots, who will not see whales until it is too late. Vessel strikes can cause catastrophic injuries to whales, and it is common for these to prove fatal. The research, published in the journal Nature, highlights the need to establish a corridor for these animals where there are movement corridors so that conservation efforts can work with traffic to avoid fatal collisions.

This Stressful Animation Shows How Difficult It Is For Whales To Avoid Fatal Vessel Strikes

Images published on Facebook by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWC FWRI) show the tragic aftermath of a 54-foot sportfishing ship colliding with a right whale. “On the evening of February 12, 2021, the captain of the August 54 sportfishing ship received news of a whale being killed near the entrance to St. Augustine’s Inlet,” the post read. “The pot starts to take water and is made on a quick basis to protect it from drowning. The occupants are all safe. The real-time report near Captain is vital to increase our understanding of shipwrecks and warns researchers to look for injured or dead whales.”

The next morning the search ended with the search for the right whale calf in the North Atlantic on a beach in Anastasia State Park. The calf is just one month old and a whale cub known to FWCWWRI as Catalog ‘Infinity’. Mother and calf were swimming in local waters that have quiet grounds for right-wing whales in the North Atlantic, two mother-calves also spotted in January 2021. A necropsy revealed that the 22-foot-long male calf was torn from the driver of the boat on its back and head by a piece of the piece, which was likely to be torn to pieces. Mother Infinity later found alive on 16 February, but with injuries consistent with the ship’s strike, which appeared to have caused by the sailor. Members of the FWC FWRI will continue to monitor Infinity as it tries to determine the severity of its wounds.

Caring for these animals creates a complex problem, as injuries are not always obvious and adequate cuts are initially as benign, in time they can cause fatal infections. Stories like these shed light on the need for more research migration routes for surface-habitat whales so that scientists can work with ship traffic services to better navigate directly and avoid such accidents. For now, the task of protecting these animals rests on the shoulders of captains, who told IFLScience in an email as a representative for the global marine charity Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC) – which steps could taken to reduce the risk of collisions.

“The [advice] for the captain is fairly simple and life-saving – slow down and post a look,” the WDC said. “The ideal speed of 10 knots that comes slowly is an increase in time to see your whale and give the whale some extra time to respond and passengers are injured so it’s not just about whale saving.”

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