New WWF work maps conflict hot-spots between Arctic whales and industry
“These ice-adapted Arctic whales are already stressed by rapid climate change,” says Pete Ewins, an author on the paper and Arctic whale specialist for WWF. “Killer whales are moving into their territory and preying on them, their food sources are moving, and now on top of that, industry is on their doorstep.”
The paper not only identifies and maps the areas of potential conflict, but also suggests how such conflicts can be reduced in a future Arctic with increasing open-water areas. The risks of oil spills in icy waters are highlighted as the biggest and most difficult risks to manage or avoid.
“It’s not all about declaring the most important places off-limits,” says Ewins. “For instance, in some cases, simply slowing ships when they’re entering these highly sensitive areas could be enough to reduce impacts. In other cases, the whales are only using these areas for a specified time, so it should be possible to just avoid that area for a period of time".
The paper also argues for better monitoring of the whales’ responses to disturbance, in order to determine their precise sensitivity to different forms of human activities. The paper is only available to subscribers, but the maps are available at panda.org/arctic/whalereport.
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B-roll and stills (for use only in the context of a story mentioning WWF)
- Arctic whales and industry (JPG, EPS)
- Beluga range map (JPG, EPS)
- Narwhal range map (JPG, EPS)
- Bowhead range map (JPG, EPS)
- Bowhead whales - Brad Benter / USFWS (JPG 589KB)
- Tagging narwhals, Baffin Bay, Nunavut, Canada. 2011 - Pete Ewins / WWF-Canada (JPG, 2.4MB)
- Tagging narwhals, Baffin Bay, Nunavut, Canada. 2011. (MP4, 128MB)