Collecting systematic data sets over many years allows us to estimate changes in species distributions and abundance over time and develop solutions to reduce risks to marine mammals from human use and climate change.

Current Projects

  1. Identifying Risks to Marine Species from Human Activities and Developing Solutions that Reduce These Risks

    Our oceans are becoming increasingly industrialized as shipping, fishing, recreational use, and renewable energy development increase. It is important to identify areas where human use of the ocean overlaps with sensitive marine species.  Identifying these areas allows us to develop solutions that reduce risks to these species.  The goal of our research is to map the overlap between species distributions and human use, identify risks associated with this overlap, and assess the potential for reducing these risks.  Our research includes making recommendations about how data can be collected to provide the greatest conservation value for protected species, assessing displacement of whales during wind energy construction, assessing economic trade-offs associated with wind energy development, and creating tools to support decision making by stakeholders and managers about how to resolve spatial use conflicts.

    • Lead: Jessica Redfern, Dan Pendleton, Laura Ganley
    • Program: EcoMap

    Redfern, J.V., Becker, E.A., Moore, T.J. 2020. Effects of variability in ship traffic and whale distributions on the risk of ships striking whales. Frontiers in Marine Science 6:1-14.

    Redfern, J.V., Moore, T.J., Becker, E.A., Calambokidis, J., Hastings, S.P., Irvine, L.M., Mate, B.R., Palacios, D.M. 2019. Evaluating stakeholder‐derived strategies to reduce the risk of ships striking whales. Diversity and Distributions 25: 1575-1585.

    Redfern, J.V., Hatch, L.T., Caldow, C., DeAngelis, M.L., Gedamke, J., Hastings, S., Henderson, L., McKenna, M.F., Moore, T.J. & Porter, M.B. 2017. Assessing the risk of chronic shipping noise to baleen whales off Southern California, USA. Endangered Species Research 32: 153-167.

    Redfern, J. V., M. F. McKenna, T. J. Moore, J. Calambokidis, M. L. DeAngelis, E. A. Becker, J. Barlow, K. A. Forney, P. C. Fiedler, and S. J. Chivers. 2013. Assessing the risk of ships striking large whales in marine spatial planning. Conservation Biology 27:292-302.

  2. Analyzing the Risk of Vessels Striking Whales

    Lethal vessel strikes of large whales are of considerable concern along the U.S. East Coast, especially strikes of right and humpback whales. Although numerous voluntary and mandatory measures have been put into place to protect right whales, the effectiveness of these mitigation measures has been reduced by changing right whale distributions, limited compliance with voluntary measures, and variable enforcement efforts. To assess the exposure of whales to vessels and the risk of vessels striking whales, we analyze the overlap between whales and vessel traffic.  These analyses can be used to identify the types of vessels that are frequently in close proximity to whales, identify areas of the greatest overlap between whales and vessel traffic, explore the potential changes in risk associated with moving vessel traffic, and determine the potential reduction in risk that can be achieved by reducing vessel speeds.

    • Lead: Jessica Redfern, Amy Knowlton, Brooke Hodge
    • Program: EcoMap

    Laist, D. W., Knowlton, A. R., & Pendleton, D. (2014). Effectiveness of mandatory vessel speed limits for protecting North Atlantic right whales. Endangered Species Research23(2), 133-147.

    Redfern, J.V., Becker, E.A., Moore, T.J. 2020. Effects of variability in ship traffic and whale distributions on the risk of ships striking whales. Frontiers in Marine Science 6:1-14.

    Redfern, J.V., Moore, T.J., Becker, E.A., Calambokidis, J., Hastings, S.P., Irvine, L.M., Mate, B.R., Palacios, D.M. 2019. Evaluating stakeholder‐derived strategies to reduce the risk of ships striking whales. Diversity and Distributions 25: 1575-1585.

    Redfern, J. V., M. F. McKenna, T. J. Moore, J. Calambokidis, M. L. DeAngelis, E. A. Becker, J. Barlow, K. A. Forney, P. C. Fiedler, and S. J. Chivers. 2013. Assessing the risk of ships striking large whales in marine spatial planning. Conservation Biology 27:292-302.

  3. Reducing large whale entanglements

    The Bycatch Consortium supports evaluation of different bycatch reduction techniques including whale-release rope and “ropeless” fishing. Our research involves field evaluation of prototype technologies off the New England coast in the states of Maine, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. We test these technologies in combination with lab studies and computer modeling. With collaborators, the Consortium has developed computer programs that can simulate encounters between a virtual right whale model in ropes with a variety of parameters including diameter and breaking strength, as well as models that can calculate loads on fishing pot gear of different dimensions, weights, and configurations, as well as under various oceanographic conditions.