[MARMAM] New paper re: Effects of whale watching on humpback whale reproductive success

Mason Weinrich mason at whalecenter.org
Thu Oct 29 10:34:45 PDT 2009


mason at whalecenter.org

 

Announcing publication of a new paper:

 

Weinrich, M., and C. Corbelli. 2009.  Does whale watching in Southern New
England impact humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) calf production or
calf survival?  Biological Conservation 142: 2931-2940.

 

Abstract: There is growing concern about the effects of wildlife tourism on
biologically important parameters in target species and/or populations. We
tested whether whale watch vessel exposure affected either the calving rates
or calf survival to age 2 in humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) on
their feeding grounds off of southern New England, where individually
identified whales have been studied intensively for decades and whale watch
pressure is intense. Whale watch exposure did not correlate with either the
calving rate (# of calves/# of years sighted) or calf production and
survival of individual females, although a breakpoint analysis showed a
slight negative trend up to 1649 min (or 20 boat interactions). In some
comparisons, whales with more exposure were significantly more likely to
produce calves and to have those calves survive. Logistic regressions
including exposure and prey variables also failed to show negative effects
of exposure in predicting calf productivity or survival. A limited
comparison of calves seen only in an alternate habitat without whale
watching showed similar return rates to those in the exposed area. Our data
include limited suggestions that some animals (i.e., females alive when
whale watching started) might be more susceptible to impacts than others.
However, we found no direct evidence for negative effects of whale watch
exposure, and suggest that short-term disturbance may not necessarily be
indicative of more meaningful detrimental effects on either individuals or
populations.

 

PDF reprint available from the author at mason at whalecenter.org. 

 

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