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Soundings Archive

Recent Research Further Indicates Bycatch Is Greatest Threat to Cetaceans

"Incidental mortality in fisheries is probably the greatest conservation concern for cetaceans worldwide."

The quote above is from a recently published research study entitled "False Killer Whale Dorsal Fin Disfigurements as a Possible Indicator of Long-Line Fishery Interactions in Hawaiian waters." The article authors are Robin W. Baird of Cascadia Research Collective and Antoinette M. Gorgone of the National Marine Fisheries Service.

The article presents the results of the authors's study of scarring in false killer whale dorsal fins in nearshore waters around the main Hawaiian waters during the period 2000-2004. False killer whales are often found near swordfish and tuna that are fished in these waters. Dorsal fin scarring is often associated with entanglement in commercial fishing lines. The authors's study results show a rate of major dorsal fin disfigurements four times higher than that of any other odontocete that the authors could find data.

Dorsal fin disfigurement is of particular concern with false killer whales because the fins are important in reproductive thermoregulation. The authors report two apparently female false killer whales that had significant dorsal fin disfigurement, but that also had calves. This suggests that false killer whales can successfully reproduce even with fins damaged by commercial fishing lines.

The article abstract is available free on online. The full article has to be purchased.
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