Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Untangling Large Whale Entanglements

New England Aquarium researcher Tim Werner hosted a three-day workshop organized through the Consortium for Wildlife Bycatch Reduction on the dynamics of large whale entanglements. This meeting brought scientists, rope manufactures, policy makers and fishermen together to review and analyze the nature of fishing gear entanglements involving North Atlantic right and humpback whales.

An entangled right whale spotted by Aquarium researchers in 2009, more information on the Right Whale Blog.

The goal was to reverse engineer actual whale entanglement events using hands on techniques and state-of-the-art computer graphic programs to get a better understanding of how these whales are getting entangled. Below are just some highlights from this important event.

Scott Kraus, the Aquarium's Vice President of Research, demonstrates a flipper entanglement with a plush representation of a North Atlantic right whale. Photo credit: Kate McClellan

Students from the Adams School in Castine, ME, used a big screen to demonstrate the entanglement software that was created by Laurens Howle from Bellequant Engineering and Duke University using an X-box controller. Photo credit: Kate McClellan

Right whale researchers Amy Knowlton and Moira Brown also examined actual entanglements during a breakout group session at the event. Photo credit: Kate McClellan

Right whale researchers are trying to save these critically endangered animals from human activities, as well as effectively put changes in place that will eliminate these dangers. Both of these goals are challenging to accomplish but there is a concerted effort on several fronts to do so and this kind of meeting is an example of those efforts. 

Learn more about the serious problem of right whale entanglements on the Right Whale Blog.

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