SOEC 2018 close to launch

Author // James Robbins Categories // Whale & Dolphin General News

SOEC 2018 close to launch

The third edition of ORCA’s ground-breaking The State of European Cetaceans report is right around the corner

This year’s report analyses and contextualises our data alongside threats and issues faced by cetaceans.

The modern presents a broader range of threats than ever, with collisions with ships, plastic and chemical pollution, commercial whaling, and noise created by human activities all devastating marine mammals.

Whales and dolphins are also victims of ‘bycatch’ – the incidental capture of animals in fishing nets and gear - which is often fatal. One of the species killed this way in UK waters is the harbour porpoise, and the SOEC 2018 includes new research into the distribution and density of harbour porpoise in the Celtic Sea, English Channel and North Sea.

Data collected by ORCA Marine Mammal Surveyors across ten ferry routes has been collated, checked and databased ready for analysis.

We share our data with dozens of students each year and help them and their supervisors to devise research projects. In September 2017, Kimberly Nielsen started an MRes in Marine Biology at Plymouth University, an institution that we have strong ties with. 

Since then Kimberley has carried out complex analysis that accounts for the number of animals missed under different conditions, such as ship speed, sea state and glare. The results of this were used in spatial models that estimate harbour porpoise abundance, and test the influence of environmental conditions such as sea surface temperature, depth and chlorophyll.

Kimberly‘s results have been incorporated into the State of European Cetaceans 2018 report, and a poster outlining her research was judged at the American Cetacean Society as the second best showcased at the event.

Building on this work, we’ll be working with Kimberley to progress the work and shape it into a peer-reviewed publication. Once it is peer-reviewed it will then be able to play a larger role in informing marine conservation policy, and hopefully lead to more research in the future.

This year’s report shows that ORCA’s work is vital in identifying cetacean trends and long-term changes, which are essential for appropriate conservation management and protection.

The State of European Cetaceans 2018 report will be publically released on the 29th of November. Members of ORCA will be able to read the report earlier in the week.