June 26

From Naturalist Laura-

It was a bit breezy out on Stellwagen today, but we still had a great trip.  We found Scylla bubble feeding in the middle of the shipping lanes.  The shipping lanes pass through Stellwagen Bank, and is the route that most of the large tankers and cruise ships take when they are coming into Boston.  Ship-strikes are one of the biggest threats to marine mammals in this area, and the shipping lanes were not always where they are today.  Previously, the shipping lanes ran about four miles to the south of the current route.  However, by using whale sightings from 1979-2002, which included a lot of data recorded from whale watching vessels (like ourselves), researchers realized the old shipping lanes were passing through an area of Stellwagen which historically had a high density of whales.  So, they concluded we could reduce the risk of ship-strikes by as much as 81% just by shifting the shipping lanes four miles to the north, where we typically have less whale sightings.  This slight re-routing only increases the transit time for ships by 9 to 22 minutes. Unfortunately, there are still days when whales like Scylla manage to wander into the shipping lanes, but overall we believe this shift was a small step that may have a big impact.

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