This study investigated whether North Atlantic right whale behavior changes, in terms of response distance, to changing visual characteristics of rope mimics in their path. 20 ft rope mimics were made from two 10 ft sections of rigid PVC pipe, with an approximate diameter of 1 inch. The rope mimics were weighted and attached to a lobster buoy to simulate a vertical line in the water column. A 30.5 cm disk was placed around the rope for reference use in video footage. The following color ropes were used: black, green, two types of white (white and glow in the dark), orange and red. Experiments were conducted in Cape Cod Bay using surface feeding whales. A significant difference in the distance of first change in behavior occurred between black and green ropes vs red and orange ropes. The response time was earlier with the latter colors. No significant difference was found between frontlit and backlit ropes.
Assessments of vision to reduce right whale entanglements
Final Report to the Consortium for Wildlife Bycatch Reduction, under NOAA Award # NA09NMF4520413 to the New England Aquarium, Boston.
New England Aquarium