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Mortality and serious injury determinations for Baleen whale stocks along the Gulf of Mexico, United States east coast and Atlantic Canadian provinces, 2006-2010
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  • Alternative Title:
    Baleen whale stocks along the Gulf of Mexico, United States east coast and Atlantic Canadian provinces, 2006-2010
  • Description:
    "The Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) has developed criteria to evaluate reports of human-caused injury and mortality to large whales. The criteria minimize the likelihood of incorrectly assigning whale mortalities and serious injuries to human causes and provide a minimum count of such human-caused incidents. Serious injury is defined as an injury that is likely to lead to death. This report describes determinations made for reports received from 2006 - 2010 involving North Atlantic right (Eubalaena glacialis), humpback (Megaptera novaeangliae), fin (Balaenoptera physalus), sei (B. borealis), blue (B. musculus), minke (B. acutorostrata), and Bryde's (B. edeni) whales observed along coastal Gulf of Mexico, the eastern seaboard of the United States, and the Atlantic Canadian provinces. A total of 500 unique large whale events were verified during the period, of which 264 (53%) involved human interactions, 16 (3%) did not involve a human interaction, and for 220 (44%) of the events it was unknown if a human interaction occurred. Of the events involving human interactions, we confirmed 206 unique entanglements and 58 vessel strikes. Four events had evidence of both entanglement and vessel strike, and are included in the totals for both these event categories. Twenty-four (12%) of the entanglements and 28 (48%) of the vessel strikes were fatal. Serious injury was sustained in 33 (16%) of the entanglement events and in 1 (2%) of the confirmed vessel strikes. Serious injury was prevented due to disentanglement efforts in 28 (14%) entanglement events. Forty-five (22%) of the entanglements and 9 (16%) of the vessel strike events did not have adequate documentation to determine if serious injury occurred. Seventy-three (35%) of the entanglement events and 17 (29%) of the vessel strike events were determined to have not caused serious injury or death. We also confirmed a total of 313 mortalities: 52 (17%) due to human interaction, 16 (5%) due to natural causes and 245 (78%) which lacked sufficient evidence to determine cause of death. Humpback whales had the greatest number of entanglement mortalities (n=9), the highest number of serious injury events resulting from entanglements (n=20); and the greatest number of vessel strike mortalities (n=10); and right whales had the only serious injury (n=1) from vessel strikes. These mortality and serious injury numbers are minimum counts because of poor detection probabilities and inadequate documentation for the majority of events. Thus, the true level of human impact to these stocks is assumed to be greater than that reported here; the amount greater is unknown"--Abstract.
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