Right Whales & Shipping Lanes

Bay of Fundy

Whale and ship

Collisions with ships are one of the leading causes of right whale mortality and the migration, calving, and feeding areas are located in some of the heaviest shipping corridors along the east coast of the United States and Canada. Using GIS analysis and maps, Dr. Moira Brown, a senior scientist at the New England Aquarium spearheaded an international collaboration between shipping companies, governmental agencies (Transport Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada), fishermen, whalewatchers and researchers to relocate the shipping lanes in the Bay of Fundy, one the two known aggregations areas for the North Atlantic right whale in the summer and fall in Canadian waters. The efforts were successful in moving the internationally mandated shipping lanes from an area with high right whale densities to an area with lower right whale densities; a move of approximately 4 nautical miles to the east, which reduced the potential for a ship-whale encounters by 80%.

Old Bay of Fundy Shipping Lanes   New Bay of Fundy Shipping Lanes
Old Bay of Fundy shipping lanes   New Bay of Fundy shipping lanes
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Roseway Basin Critical Right Whale Habitat Area

Roseway Basin

Dr. Brown is taking her successful strategy to the other right whale conservation area in Canadian waters, Roseway Basin located on the western Scotian Shelf between Brown and Baccaro Banks. The researchers call Roseway Basin the singles bar for right whale because the whales seem to spend most of their time socializing in the area. Socializing right whales spend most of the time at the surface making them even more susceptible to ship strikes. Currently Dr. Brown is in the process of collecting the data to produce GIS maps and analyses for this area. The visualization of the sightings in time and space will help interested parties understand the overlap between right whales and shipping traffic and located the boundaries and an area to be avoided to reduce the risk of a vessel whale encounter.

We would like to thank World Wildlife Fund US, World Wildlife Fund Canada and the Habitat Stewardship Program of Environment Canada who provided support over four years for this project.

For more information about this project please contact Dr. Moira Brown.


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