Arctic ship traffic is increasing - but what does this mean for Arctic whales? 🐳

HW article July
Abstract: The remote and harsh environment that endemic Arctic whales (bowhead, narwhal and beluga) reside in has so far limited their exposure to many human activities. However, Arctic industrialisation coupled with increasingly accessible ice-free waters means these species increasingly co-occur, and are exposed to, a number of potentially impactful activities, many of which are directly or indirectly associated with marine vessels. We conducted a systematic map, using five search databases, to ascertain the current level of understanding relating to how Arctic whales respond to marine vessels and vessel-associated activities. We identified a limited volume of literature (n = 169), and a disparity in volume between species, subpopulations, and vessel types. Several vessel types are increasingly present in the Arctic (e.g. cruise ships, fishing vessels), yet received limited consideration. Similarly, several endangered subpopulations have received little attention. Only with sufficient understanding of the associated impacts of vessels can we develop appropriate management and mitigation measures which can effectively conserve these unique, vulnerable and inherently valuable species.

read the review - now available in Ocean & Coastal Management.