Subject: Effects of boating traffic on whales

Tori (cullins@hawaii.edu)
Mon, 26 May 1997 10:13:10 -1000

  
Dear Tori

I'm would like to know.

.	Is there any research material available about the effects of boating 
	traffic on whales.  In particular, to whales during migration or with
	calves.

.	Are you aware if boating traffic can have effects on whale behaviour 
	during migration and when with calves.  The reason I ask if that the
	Queensland State Government ( Australia ) is producing a Conservation
	Plan for Whales and Dolphins.  This looks at the issue of permits for
	Commercial Whale Watching.  While I support Whale watching, I do have
 	concern that they may issue permits for Whale watching along areas
of
the 
	Southern Coast of Queensland.  This area is a migration path for the
Humpback 
	and is known to be very narrow at this point.  There appears to be some 
	evidence to suggest boating traffic can have some effect upon whale 
	behaviour.
	
	In particular negative impacts upon whales during migration and when
with
	calves.

	The Queensland Government at this stage doesn't appear to have any 
	research material about boating traffic, which negates concerns about
	the negative impacts of boating traffic.  I have recommended in my
submission
	that they at least adopt the precautionary principle and find out more
	about this issue before issuing further permits and allowing
	Commercial Whale Watching along or through narrow sections of the
Humpbacks
	migration path and resting areas.  My fears maybe unjustified but the
	Government can issue no material to allay my concerns.

	Many thanks for any advice or material you can supply.

	Kind regards


	Simon Baltais
	President
	Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland
	2/133 George St Bris Queensland Australia
	07 32210194   fax: 07 3221 0701

Aloha Steve, 

When looking for specific research information I check the CD ROM
Biological abstracts at the Univeristy of Hawaii here. Since I have
recently been researching migration I happen to have some references. I
think the most pertinent for your purposes would be Pod Characteristics of
Migrating Humpback Whales (Megaptera Novaeangliae) Off the East Australian
Coast," Miranda Brown and Peter Corkeron, in Behavior 132(3-4) pages
163-179. In this study it seems that humpback migration along the east
Australian Coast is somewhat unique to this area. I would try to contact
either one of these folks as this was a field study and they would know or
have good leads to the answers you are looking for. Brown and Corkeron are
at the University of Sydney, Dept. of Veterinary Anatomy. If you can't
contact them let me know and I'll supply some other leads.

As far as boating traffic there has been considerable studies here in
Hawaii. A good start would be to contact Pacific Whale Foundation, 101 N.
Kihei Road, Kihei, HI 96753, who has conducted studies on vessel impacts
to humpbacks. They also have studies on migration in East Australia. The
PWF phone number is (808) 879-8811.

Looking through abstracts I don't see anything specific on vessel impact
and migration, per se. Although with the proper information and contacts
you may able to put a viable case together.

Salden, D.R. 1988. Humpback Whale Encounter Rates offshore of Maui,
Hawaii. Journal of Wildlife Management vol. 52 issue 2, pp. 301, 304. Dan
looks at the possibiltiy that whale-watch boats are causing a decline of
cows and calves in the area studied.

Paterson, R., P. Paterson and D.H. Cato. The Status of Humpback
Whales in East Australia Thirty Years After Whaling. Biological
Conservation vol. 70, no.2, pp. 135-142
Here's one you should be aware of. In 1994, R. Paterson reports that due
to the rate of increase in humpback whale population since the end of the
whaling era, he doesn't believe that there are any "environmental factors
negative to this particular [east Australian} stock." I'm not aware  if
boating traffic was a factor.

Smultea, M. 1994. Segregation by Humpback Cows With a Calf in Coastal
Habitat Near the Island of Hawaii. Canadian Journal of Zoology vol.72, no.
5. pp. 805-811. This paper refers to human disturbance (including boating
traffic) quite a bit.

Corkeron, P.J., M. Brown, R.W. Slade and M.M. Bryden. Humpback Whales in
Hervy Bay, Queensland. Wildlife Research vol. 21, no. 3. pp. 293-305.
Hey Steve I think you want to get a hold of these people, this is the same
Corkeron and Brown at the start of my response. This is part of a study
done on the impact of commercial whale-watching on migrating humpbacks!
However, THAT study is not on the abstract list I am looking at. This study
is the the distribution of whales in that area. Try to locate these
people.

If you need more leads please let me know. Good luck and keep up the good
work! You may a find a lot of support for what you are attempting out
there.

Tori