Soundwatch: Eighteen years of monitoring whale watch vessel activities in the Salish Sea
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Soundwatch: Eighteen years of monitoring whale watch vessel activities in the Salish Sea
  • Published Date:

    2017

  • Source:
    PLOS ONE
Filetype[PDF-4.11 MB]


Details:
  • Alternative Title:
    Soundwatch: Eighteen years of monitoring whale watch vessel activities in the Salish Sea
  • Description:
    The Soundwatch Boater Education Program is a vessel monitoring and public education outreach program. Soundwatch has been run by The Whale Museum (TWM) during the whale watch season (May through September) in the Haro Strait Region of the Central Salish Sea since 1993. Data collection has been in a consistent manner since 1998 and is presented here. The program compiles data on vessel types and vessel interactions with marine mammals with a focus on the Southern Resident killer whale (SRKW), Orcinas orca, which was listed as endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 2005. The primary goal of the Soundwatch program is to reduce vessel disturbance to SRKWs and other marine wildlife through the education of boaters on regional, local and federal guidelines and regulations and the systematic monitoring of vessel activities around cetaceans. Since 1998, the number of active commercial whale watching vessels has increased over time; ranging from a low of 63 in 1999, to a high of 96 in 2015. In addition, the number of vessel incidents or violation of regulations and guidelines has also increased; ranging from a low of 398 in 1998 to a high of 2621 in 2012. Soundwatch collected data on 23 incident types, some remaining the same over the 18-year data set and some changing over time. The most common incidents over the 18 years were "Within 880 m of Lime Kiln" and "Crossing the path of whales". The numbers of people kayaking near whales also significantly increased since 2004 with the incident "kayaks spread out" with a significantly increasing trend making it difficult for whales to avoid vessels. These results suggest a need for further outreach for effective education and enforcement of whale watching guidelines and regulations in the Central Salish Sea.
  • DOI:
    10.1371/journal.pone.0189764
  • Pubmed Central ID:
    PMC5741222
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