industry attempts to steer clear of whales
J. D. Irving Limited
the Times Globe
approximately 300 right whales left in the world, and two thirds of them spend
the summer months in the Bay of Fundy. For the shipping industry, this is
challenging but exciting news. Right whales can be up to 50 feet long, and are
quite visible, but don't instinctively move out of the way of approaching
ships. Moving ships in and out of the Bay of Fundy along shipping lanes
requires special attention when safely passing through right whale habitat as
vessels must stay far enough away from shore to avoid any risk of ship
Because right whales are an endangered species,
scientists are carefully studying their movement and monitoring population
growth. Twenty years ago when shipping lanes were first created in the Bay of
Fundy, there were almost no reported right whale sightings. Today, the
situation is very different. Right whales have begun migrating in significant
numbers to the Bay of Fundy between May and November. Since the aggregation of
right whales in local waters has become denser over the years, scientists are
looking for ways to protect their habitat. Part of this undertaking involves -
working with the shipping industry to integrate right whale conservation with
"More whales are staying longer and
arriving earlier in the Bay of Fundy," says Dr. Moira Brown, a scientist with
the Canadian Whale Institute. "We are very concerned about human caused
mortality of these animals." Right whales do not seem to fear ships. They
travel on or just beneath surface waters putting them in the path of passing
vessels. Not enough is known on the right whales to understand how they
perceive ships. Researchers need to know at what frequency whales detect sound.
This will tell them whether or not whales hear ships. if they do hear ships,
scientists want to- know if whales understand what to do when they hear one
approaching. Research in this area is ongoing.
involvement in protecting right whales began in 1992, when Delilah, a young
mother, was discovered with an 18-foot bruise along her body. She died; leaving
behind an eight-month-old calf named Calvin. The whale's death was widely
covered by the media, and brought partners together to discuss ways of
preventing future human-caused deaths. Since then, scientific, industry and
volunteer organizations have rallied together to raise awareness on protecting
the endangered species.
Kent Lines and Irving Oil are
both active participants in right whale conservation. For the past four years,
Irving Oil has provided funding to the New England Aquarium for right whale
research. Ongoing study is critical to gathering much-needed information on the
animals. All partners assist in bringing the best knowledge forward. "By
working together, we can find answers to our questions and more importantly
learn how to best protect the right whale," says John Logan who manages ships
for Irving Oil.
"We have formed a relationship between
mariners and scientists that is both cooperative and understanding of each
All parties agree more research is
needed before finding a solution. Until then, ongoing education and awareness
will help avoid injury to the animals. Fundy Traffic, a marine traffic
regulating centre, sends out a radio broadcast to all ships entering the Bay of
Fundy advising them of the region's right whale conservation area. This area is
also clearly noted in the annual Notice to Mariners, a mandatory publication
found on board all ships. Vessels are asked to reduce speed and be on the look
out for right whales as they enter this zone. Kent Lines takes the
responsibility seriously, posting a lookout to watch for right whales while in
the area. Lookouts are trained through on-board literature and videos that
teach crew how to search for whales. Whale sightings are reported to the
captain, and the ship does whatever is possible to avoid the whale. Whale
observation reports are received by Fundy Traffic.
preparing for a whale of a rescue
By MIA URQUHART
officials may take some rare and drastic measures in an attempt to save the
life of an entangled right whale thought to be heading for the Bay of
David Mattila, director of disentanglement for the
Centre for Coastal Studies, said biologists, veterinarians and government
officials discussed the options during a conference call on Monday night.
"Generally, people feet that there is not a high chance
of surviving if the rope stays in his head. But they also agreed that to take
it out was going to take measures more radical than we would normally apply
when we're trying to disentangle whales."
said they are now waiting for approval from the National Marine Fisheries
Services to employ those radical steps. Mr. Manila said they are now waiting
for approval from the National Marine Fisheries Services to employ those
He explained that rescuers might have to
use sedatives and a harness to keep the whale, known only by his assigned
number of 1102, immobile long enough to remove the
The rare right whale was spotted off the coast of
Cape Cod has a two centimetre plastic line cutting into his rostrum, or upper
jaw. While the whale is still feeding and appears to be in good health, its
prognosis is not good. Tissue around both sides of its mouth is discoloured and
Mr. Manila said experts have said they have
never seen wounds of this sort heal over the embedded ropes.
Mr. Manila was part of a team that observed the huge
mammal Saturday and attached a telemetry buoy so marine scientists could track
it. As of Sunday night, the whale was about 130 kilometres off the coast of
Cape Cod, near Georges Bank, travelling north.
government approval is granted, the team will keep track of the whale and ready
"We're putting together things that we wouldn't
normally use, like a delivery system for sedatives, a harness to be applied
around the tale of the whale, things like that."
such drastic steps illustrates how important each whale is.
"With only just a little over 300 of them left, each
whale does make a difference. We're positive that we do not find every
entangled whale and so the ones that we do find, if we can make a difference,
it is helping somewhat."