Long-term trends in cetacean incidents in New South Wales, Australia

Lyod, H.B. and G.A. Ross
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Australian Zoologist
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This study collected information on cetacean incidents (carcasses, injured and debilitated animals found onshore, entrapped in shallow water, entangled or floating offshore) that have occurred in New South Wales, Australia. Information on marine mammal incidents was reported to the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service and recorded into a Marine Fauna Events Database. This information was analyzed for trends in mortality and population dynamics such as age and sex ratios. Records existed for the time period of 1790 to 2013. For the majority of incidents, the cause of mortality/morbidity could not be determined. Anthropogenic causes, such as entanglements, accounted for more incidents compared to natural causes such as disease or predation. Entanglement was the largest cause of cetacean incidents that were made up mostly of humpback whale entanglements. Reporting of incidents have increased over time, from 1.3 incidents per year prior to 1960 to 43.5 per year during 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. A concentration of incidents were found in the Northern Rivers and North Coast regions. This study highlights the importance of these types of databases.

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