Assessing Changing Baleen Whale Distributions Relative to Human Pressure

The Northwest Atlantic Ocean (NWA) is home to six baleen whale species, that are becoming threatened by increasing human pressures. Baleen whales are commonly injured by collisions with vessels. Furthermore, their food supply and habitat quality is threatened by environmental changes caused by climate change, but there are significant knowledge gaps surrounding these threats.

I will be addressing these gaps by determining the space and time distributions of baleen whales in the NWA relative to vessel activity to assess vessel strike risk, using observation data, GIS technology, and statistical modelling. In addition, I will be predicting the distributions of the baleen whales under climate change conditions using a high-resolution spatiotemporal point process model. This work aims to determine present and future aggregations of whales, habitat usage, and hotspots of interaction with vessels. Lastly, I will evaluate the effectiveness of the current management strategies that are in place to protect baleen whales from vessel strikes, based on the results found, and ultimately determine if they need reassessment to best conserve threatened whale species.

From this project, we will be able to better predict NWA baleen whale distribution with regard to human interaction and environmental change, which will strengthen the scientific basis for more targeted protection measures.

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR

Hannah Solway

Master’s Student

Dalhousie University

Email: hannah.solway@gmail.com

Phone: +1 902 494 2478 (office)

SUPERVISOR

Dr. Boris Worm (Dalhousie University) Canada

TYPE/STATUS OF PROJECT

Scientific research (In progress)

Contact Information
Principal Investigator
Hannah Solway
Master’s Student
Biology Department Dalhousie University
1459 Oxford St.
PO BOX 15000
Halifax, NS B3H 4R2
Canada
Supervisor
Boris Worm
Professor
Biology Department Dalhousie University
1355 Oxford St.
PO BOX 15000
Halifax, NS B3H 4R2
Canada