[MARMAM] New publication on whale alarm research off Sydney, Australia

VANESSA PIROTTA vanessa.pirotta at students.mq.edu.au
Thu Jan 21 04:21:14 PST 2016

Dear MARMAM colleagues,

We are pleased to announce the following publication in Endangered Species

Migrating humpback whales show no detectable response to whale alarms off
Sydney, Australia
Vanessa Pirotta*, David Slip, Ian D. Jonsen, Victor M. Peddemors, Douglas
H. Cato, Geoffrey Ross, Robert Harcourt
*Email: vanessa.pirotta at students.mq.edu.au

Pirotta V, Slip D, Jonsen ID, Peddemors VM, Cato DH, Ross G, Harcourt R
(2016) Migrating humpback whales show no detectable response to whale
alarms off Sydney, Australia. Endang Species Res 29:201-209


Migratory Group V (Stock E1) humpback whales Megaptera novaeangliae are at
risk of entanglement with fishing gear as they migrate north and south
along the east coast of Australia. This study investigated the
effectiveness of 2 distinct tones for use as an alarm to acoustically alert
whales to fishing gear presence and therefore reduce the chance of
entanglement. We compared how whales responded in terms of changes of
surface behaviour and changes in direction of travel in response to 2
acoustic tones and when there was no alarm. These 2 acoustic tones were a 5
kHz tone (5 s emission interval and 400 ms emission duration, similar to
but higher frequency than the signal from a Future Oceans F3TM 3 kHz Whale
Pinger®) and a 2−2.1 kHz swept tone (8 s emission interval and 1.5 s
emission duration). A total of 108 tracks (focal follows) were collected
using a theodolite at Cape Solander, Sydney, Australia, during the whales’
2013 northern migration. Linear mixed effects models were used to determine
the effect of the different acoustic tones on whale direction (heading),
and behaviour (dive duration and speed). Whales showed no detectable
response to either alarm. Whale direction and surfacing behaviour did not
differ whether the alarm was ‘on’ or ‘off’. Although the response may have
been different if the alarms were attached to fishing gear, the lack of
measurable response suggests that the types of tones used are not likely to
be effective in alarms intended to reduce entanglement of northward
migrating Australian humpback whales.

KEY WORDS: Fisheries · Entanglement · Megaptera novaeangliae · Mortality ·
Bycatch · Acoustic deterrents

The paper is available online:

*Vanessa Pirotta* | PhD Candidate
Marine Predator Research Group
Department of Biological Sciences
Faculty of Science and Engineering
Macquarie University, NSW 2109, Australia
*Twitter: *@VanessaPirotta
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