Al Romero (aromero@ACC.FAU.EDU)
Fri, 18 Apr 1997 13:03:21 -0500 (EST)

At 05:16 PM 4/18/97 +0800, you wrote:
>Dear Sir,
>Our company is involved in import, management and consultancy services of
high speed catamaran ferries to the Philippines.
>Over the last few months various types of whales and dolphins are prolific
in our waters. Whilst we are very happy to see them we are having problems
with them. We have recently had several incidents of our vessels colliding
with whales and dolphins. These vessels have an active fin stabilizer system
fitted which resembles an aircraft wing mounted horizontally under each bow
of the boat. Whilst this wing is extremely robust  and no damage has been
reported to date we cannot guarantee the same for the whales. We have
instructed all crews to try and observe the whales immediately after any
collision and to remain in the area for some time after any collision but
the reports to date are that the whales "sound" are not sighted again. Thus
we have been unable to make any sort of report on actual injuries. I should
add that these vessels are travelling between 30 - 35 knots.
>My experience in Australia was with similar vessels but slightly slower (25
knots) and without the stabilizer wing. We never experienced any collisions
with these vessels although I have had unconfirmed reports of sailing boats
colliding with whales. The Australian boats that I worked on however had
Detroit engines which are two stroke and emit a fairly strong relatively
high pitched sound. Conversely the newer vessels we are operating here are
fitted with four stroke engines that emit a lower pitched noise at a much
lower noise level.
>This has led us to believe that there is some relationship between the
noise and the collisions, we believe that some work has been done on
acoustics and that some system was installed in the UK to repel whales from
a power station.
>If you have any information on this it would be appreciated.
>Kind regards,
>Capt. Chris Parry.
Dear Capt. Parry:

I am happy to hear of your concern about the safety of whales and dolphins
that may collide with the boats you mentioned.

I do not know about the specific example in the U.K. which you also
mentioned. What I can tell you is that the whole field of intereactions
between noise pollution and cetaceans is a hot and developing one, so there
are not too many conclusive answers to it. We do know that noises that may
afect some whales may not affect other sepcies of cetaceans. Problems
similar to the ones you detailed in your message have been encounter in
other parts of the world, like the Caribbean. Usually, the only solution is
to study the marine mammal fauna of the area and its biology, i.e.,
population levels, migratory patterns, etc., and figure out which routes and
times of the year must be followed in order to avoid collisions with these
animals. Still, there will also be the possibility of colliding with a
strayed animal.

Even if there were "noise deterrents" against whales you need to know all
that information and still you may be questioned for introducing a new type
of pollution (noise pollution) into the ocean.

May be the best solution would be to come up with routes for your boats
where collision are less likely and also slow down the boats in those areas
frequent by marine mammals.

Best wishes,

Aldemaro Romero, Ph.D.		
Florida Atlantic University	(954)236-1125	
College of Liberal Arts		(954)236-1150 (F)
Department of Biology
2912 College Ave.,
Davie, FL 33314