App, shipping lane changes keep right whales safe in Bay of Fundy
The North Atlantic right whale is rebounding because fewer whales are getting hit by ships, and one of the world’s leading experts says increased shipping in the Bay of Fundy is unlikely to change that.
“I think the additional traffic might be another three ships per week, certainly not as busy as a place like Boston or some of the other areas that right whales go,” says Moira Brown of the New England Aquarium.
Brown says the number of right whales has doubled since efforts to save the endangered species began 35 years ago.
Much of the success in saving right whales in the Bay of Fundy can be attributed to a move to change the shipping lanes, which reduced the possibility of ship collisions with right whales.
A right whale hasn’t been struck and killed by a ship since the lanes were moved 20 years ago.
Some have raised concerns over the Energy East pipeline, which will increase shipping in the Bay of Fundy, but Brown doesn’t share that concern.
“I don’t anticipate a problem, but I’m also confident if there is a problem we’ll open up the dialogue and figure it out like we did in the past,” she says.
In addition, boaters will be able to report sightings of endangered right whales with a cellphone app. It’s a free download called Whale Alert that works in both Canadian and U.S. waters.
“So when you see a right whale you can report it right onto the app and know where they are and stay away to give the whale some space,” says Joanne Carney, who operates a whale watching tour.
Brown says she is promoting the use of the Whale Alert app for both mariners and pleasure boaters.
“Finally, here is a way that a member of the public can help us do our research,” she says.
Between the app and shipping lane changes, whale watchers hope that Maritime waters will continue to see the results of an international effort to keep ships and whales apart.
“It’s nice to see a success story with an endangered species going in the right direction,” says whale watching tour operator John Eldridge. “We see so many going in the opposite direction.”
With files from CTV Atlantic's Mike Cameron