[MARMAM] Active whale avoidance to minimize ship strike risk

Gende, Scott scott_gende at nps.gov
Mon Oct 7 14:26:21 PDT 2019

On behalf of my co-authors, including marine pilots, I’m pleased to share
the following link to our Open Access paper titled ‘Active whale avoidance
by large ships: components and constraints of a complementary approach to
reducing ship strike risk’.

*Gende, S.M., Vose, L., Baken, J., Gabriele, C.M., Preston, R., and A.
Noble Hendrix.  2019.  Active Whale Avoidance by Large Ships: Components
and Constraints of a Complementary Approach to Reducing Ship Strike Risk.
Front. Mar. Sci., 30 September 2019 |

Abstract is below and the article can be found here:




*Abstract*: The recurrence of lethal ship-whale collisions (‘ship strikes’)
has prompted management entities across the globe to seek effective ways
for reducing collision risk. Here we describe ‘active whale avoidance’
defined as a mariner making operational decisions to reduce the chance of a
collision with a sighted whale. We generated a conceptual model of active
whale avoidance and, as a proof of concept, apply data to the model based
on observations of humpback whales surfacing in the proximity of large
cruise ships, and simulations run in a full-mission bridge simulator and
commonly used pilotage software. Application of the model demonstrated that
(1) the opportunities for detecting a surfacing whale are often limited and
temporary, (2) the cumulative probability of detecting one of the available
‘cues’ of whale’s presence (and direction of travel) decreases with
increased ship-to-whale distances, and (3) following detection time delays
occur related to avoidance operations. These delays were attributed to the
mariner evaluating competing risks (e.g., risk of whale collision vs. risk
to human life, the ship, or other aspects of the marine environment),
deciding upon an appropriate avoidance action, and achieving a new
operational state by the ship once a maneuver is commanded. We thus
identify several options for enhancing whale avoidance including training
Lookouts to focus search efforts on a ‘Cone of Concern,’ defined here as
the area forward of the ship where whales are at risk of collision based on
the whale and ship’s transit/swimming speed and direction of travel.
Standardizing protocols for rapid communication of relevant sighting
information among bridge team members can also increase avoidance by
sharing information on the whale that is of sufficient quality to be
actionable. We also found that, for marine pilots in Alaska, a slight
change in course tends to be preferable to slowing the ship in response to
a single sighted whale, owing, in part, to the substantial distance
required to achieve an effective speed reduction in a safe manner. However,
planned, temporary speed reductions in known areas of whale aggregations,
particularly in navigationally constrained areas, provide a greater range
of options for avoidance, highlighting the value of real-time sharing of
whale sighting data by mariners. Development and application of these
concepts in modules in full mission ship simulators can be of significant
value in training inexperienced mariners by replicating situations and
effective avoidance maneuvers (reducing the need to ‘learn on the water’),
helping regulators understand the feasibility of avoidance options, and,
identifying priority research threads. We conclude that application of
active whale avoidance techniques by large ships is a feasible yet
underdeveloped tool for reducing collision risk globally, and highlight the
value of local collaboration and integration of ideas across disciplines to
finding solutions to mutually desired conservation outcomes.

Please send inquiries or questions to:
Scott M. Gende, Ph.D.
Senior Science Advisor
Glacier Bay Field Station
3100 National Park Road,
Juneau, AK 99801
Scott_Gende at nps.gov
907-364-2622 (office); 907-364-2606 (fax)

Scott M. Gende, Ph.D.
Senior Science Advisor
Glacier Bay Field Station
3100 National Park Road,
Juneau, AK 99801
907-364-2622 (office); 907-364-2606 (fax)

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