Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

Abundance and distribution of sperm whales in the Canary Islands: can sperm whales in the Archipelago sustain the current level of ship-strike mortalities?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Author(s)

Andrea Fais, Tim P. Lewis, Daniel P. Zitterbart, Omar Álvarez, Ana Tejedor, Natacha Aguilar de Soto

School/Research organisations

Abstract

Sperm whales are present in the Canary Islands year-round, suggesting that the archipelago is an important area for this species in the North Atlantic. However, the area experiences one of the highest reported rates of sperm whale ship-strike in the world. Here we investigate if the number of sperm whales found in the archipelago can sustain the current rate of ship-strike mortality. The results of this study may also have implications for offshore areas where concentrations of sperm whales may coincide with high densities of ship traffic, but where ship-strikes may be undocumented. The absolute abundance of sperm whales in an area of 52933 km2, covering the territorial waters of the Canary Islands, was estimated from 2668 km of acoustic line-transect survey using Distance sampling analysis. Data on sperm whale diving and acoustic behaviour, obtained from bio-logging, were used to calculate g(0) = 0.92, this is less than one because of occasional extended periods when whales do not echolocate. This resulted in an absolute abundance estimate of 224 sperm whales (95% log-normal CI 120-418) within the survey area. The recruitment capability of this number of whales, some 2.5 whales per year, is likely to be exceeded by the current ship-strike mortality rate. Furthermore, we found areas of higher whale density within the archipelago, many coincident with those previously described, suggesting that these are important habitats for females and immature animals inhabiting the archipelago. Some of these areas are crossed by active shipping lanes increasing the risk of ship-strikes. Given the philopatry in female sperm whales, replacement of impacted whales might be limited. Therefore, the application of mitigation measures to reduce the ship-strike mortality rate seems essential for the conservation of sperm whales in the Canary Islands.

Close

Details

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0150660
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume11
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 21 Mar 2016

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by journal

  1. PLoS ONE (Journal)

    Joanna Louise Kershaw (Reviewer)

    18 Mar 2019

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPeer review of manuscripts

  2. PLoS One (Journal)

    Paula Jean Miles (Member of editorial board)

    2019

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPeer review of manuscripts

  3. PLoS ONE (Journal)

    Catharine Penelope Cross (Member of editorial board)

    1 Sep 2018 → …

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditor of research journal

  4. PLoS ONE (Journal)

    Will Cresswell (Reviewer)

    23 May 2018

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPeer review of manuscripts

  5. PLoS ONE (Journal)

    Barbara Dritschel (Member of editorial board)

    May 2018 → …

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditor of research journal

Related by journal

  1. Ecosystem engineers drive differing microbial community composition in intertidal estuarine sediments

    Wyness, A. J., Fortune, I., Blight, A. J., Browne, P., Hartley, M., Holden, M. & Paterson, D. M., 19 Feb 2021, In: PLoS ONE. 16, 2, 20 p., e0240952.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  2. Performance evaluation of survival regression models in analysing Swedish dental implant complication data with frailty

    Fagbamigbe, A. F., Karlsson, K., Derks, J. & Petzold, M., 7 Jan 2021, In: PLoS ONE. 16, 1, 16 p., e0245111.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  3. Young children share more under time pressure than after a delay

    Ploetner, M., Hepach, R., Over, H., Carpenter, M. & Tomasello, M., 16 Mar 2021, In: PLoS One. 16, 3, 10 p., e0248121.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  4. Are in vitro and in silico approaches used appropriately for animal-based major depressive disorder research?

    Carvalho, C., Varela, S. A. M., Marques, T. A., Knight, A. & Vicente, L., 24 Jun 2020, In: PLoS ONE. 15, 6, 6 p., e0233954.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  5. Artists on the edge of the world: an integrated approach to the study of Magdalenian engraved stone plaquettes from Jersey (Channel Islands)

    Bello, S. M., Blinkhorn, E., Needham, A., Bates, M., Duffy, S., Little, A., Pope, M., Scott, B., Shaw, A., Welch, M. D., Kinnaird, T., Millar, L., Robinson, R. & Conneller, C., 19 Aug 2020, In: PLoS ONE. 15, 8, 40 p., e0236875.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

ID: 241962851

Top