Behavioral responses of minke whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) to experimental fishing gear in a coastal environment

Authors: 

Kot, B.W., Sears, R., Anis, A., Nowacek, D.P., Gedamke, J., Marshall, C.D.

Year: 

2012

Journal/Publisher Name: 

Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology

Volume (Issue #): 

413

Page #s: 

13-20

Contact information: 

Department of Marine Biology, 200 Seawolf Parkway, Texas A&M University, Galveston, TX 77553, USA. Tel.: +1 409 740 4718; fax: +1 409 740 5001. E-mail address: kotb@tamug.edu
Summary: 

Field experiments were conducted to determine behavioral responses of minke whales to experimental ropes and buoys made up of different colors, simulating those used in crab and whelk fishing gear. Trials were conducted with yellow, orange, green, blue, white and black ropes. Visual and acoustic monitoring was used to assess behavioral responses of whales to the different experimental gears. In addition, remote sensing equipment was used to monitor oceanographic conditions, underwater sounds and to video the whales as they swam near the experimental ropes. The results indicated a positive correlation between whale approach velocity and depature velocity and bearing changes. Minke whales decreased their swimming velocity and altered their bearing when passing by these ropes and increased their velocity once they had passed by the ropes. This was most evident when the ropes were black and white. Low frequency vocalizations and altered swimming trajectories were also noted in some whales as they passed near the ropes.