1. Marine mammals are negatively impacted by ship traffic, which causes behavioural disturbances, acoustic masking, ship strikes, and other harmful effects.
2. Scientists examined the effects of vessels on beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) in the Tarium Niryutait Marine Protected Area in the Mackenzie River estuary between 2015 and 2018 with acoustic recorders placed near the only shipping lane in the protected area.
3. Beluga vocalizations decreased significantly when ships were within five kilometres of the acoustic recorder, suggesting that the cetaceans either avoid the vessels or vocalize less; future studies are needed to determine long-term consequences of vessel traffic on belugas and formulate management decisions to reduce impacts.
Study and Journal: "Beluga vocalizations decrease in response to vessel traffic in the Mackenzie River Estuary" from Arctic
WCS Co-Author(s): illiam. Halliday (Lead) , Associate Conservation Scientist, WCS Canada ; Stephen Insley , Western Arctic Associate Conservationist, WCS, Canada
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