MARINE BIOLOGY

Ship strikes threaten blue whale numbers

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  01 Aug 2014:
Vol. 345, Issue 6196, pp. 527-528
DOI: 10.1126/science.345.6196.527-f

Whale-ship collisions may be behind low blue whale population counts despite international protections. Irvine et al. used satellites to track 171 blue whales off California over 15 years. The whales, part of the eastern North Pacific population, returned each summer to krill-rich upwelling zones off Santa Barbara and San Francisco—areas also crossed by major shipping lanes. At least three blue whales were killed by ship strike during 2 weeks in 2007. But a similar problem in Canada's Bay of Fundy offers hope: Eleven years ago, its maritime industry moved a shipping lane and reduced speed limits, reducing the likelihood of vessels striking right whales by 80%.

A blue whale killed by a ship strike

PHOTO: FLIP NICKLIN/MINDEN PICTURES

PLOS ONE 10.1371/journal.pone.0102959(2014).

Navigate This Article