Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Whales fall through the research net: Global populations of marine mammals observed far too little

Date:
September 17, 2012
Source:
Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
Summary:
A world map reveals that only a fourth of the world ocean surface has been surveyed for whales and dolphins in the past decades. It is only possible to identify detrimental influences and collect basic information for research and environmental protection if data on marine organisms is collected regularly. First and foremost, it will be necessary to observe international waters more closely and develop new analytical methods, conclude the scientists.

There are enormous gaps on the world map of whale observation, especially in international waters. Only the areas shaded dark blue have been surveyed several times in the past decades.
Credit: Image courtesy of Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg

A world map created by scientists of the universities of Freiburg and St. Andrews, Scotland, reveals that only a fourth of the world ocean surface has been surveyed for whales and dolphins in the past decades. It is only possible to identify detrimental influences and collect basic information for research and environmental protection if data on marine organisms is collected regularly. First and foremost, it will be necessary to observe international waters more closely and develop new analytical methods, conclude the scientists in their study in the journal PLoS ONE.

Related Articles


The team combed through more than 400 studies on whales conducted between 1975 and 2005 for their study. The scientists digitalized thousands of maps, and in doing so identified alarming gaps. They determined that most of the extensive observations have taken place in the waters of economically strong nations in the northern hemisphere, particularly those of the USA and Europe. With the exception of the Antarctic waters, where the International Whaling Commission is monitoring the reduction of the Minke Whale population by Japanese whalers, there are enormous areas in the southern hemisphere in which whale populations have not been surveyed at all in the past decades..

The researchers ascertained that the main reason for observing whales is the market for "dolphin-friendly" tuna, whose production requires ensuring that no dolphins are killed by incidental capture. "The eastern tropical Pacific has thus been studied more often than all other marine areas put together," says the Freiburg marine biologist Dr. Kristin Kaschner. But even these relatively well researched areas lie on the lower end of the scale with regard to the necessary observation frequency. In order to track temporal changes, Kaschner explains, it is important to observe the populations of marine mammals as regularly as possible. "This is currently only the case for six percent of the surface of all oceans," says Kaschner.

However, a sufficient pool of data on the populations of whales and dolphins is a precondition for successful research and effective protection of marine mammals. They were decimated by whaling in the past and are still threatened today by military sonar systems, bycatch, and water pollution. The scientists argue that international efforts to maintain biodiversity should lead to the development new approaches to data collection. Particularly important is the question as to what effect sound sources like sonar systems or seismic exploration of potential oil or gas reserves have on whales. "Gaps in data have an impact on all aspects of marine biology and planning, from fishery policy to marine protected areas," says Kaschner. "The data we have on sharks, deep-sea creatures, and marine viruses is even patchier."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Kristin Kaschner, Nicola J. Quick, Rebecca Jewell, Rob Williams, Catriona M. Harris. Global Coverage of Cetacean Line-Transect Surveys: Status Quo, Data Gaps and Future Challenges. PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (9): e44075 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0044075

Cite This Page:

Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg. "Whales fall through the research net: Global populations of marine mammals observed far too little." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 September 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120917085533.htm>.
Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg. (2012, September 17). Whales fall through the research net: Global populations of marine mammals observed far too little. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120917085533.htm
Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg. "Whales fall through the research net: Global populations of marine mammals observed far too little." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120917085533.htm (accessed December 20, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) — In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 19, 2014) — Millions of monarch butterflies begin to descend onto Mexico as part of their annual migration south. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) — The new year is coming and nothing will energize you more for 2015 than protein-filled foods. Fitness and nutrition expert John Basedow (@JohnBasedow) gives his favorite high protein foods that will help you build muscle, lose fat and have endless energy. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Newsy (Dec. 19, 2014) — A new study suggests a certain type of bird was able to sense a tornado outbreak that moved through the U.S. a day before it hit. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins