Effect of environmental conditions on cetacean entanglements: a case study from the Gold Coast, Australia
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Entanglement of marine mammals in fishing gear is recognised worldwide and is a continuous management concern. Gill-net entanglement data from the Queensland Shark Control Program (QSCP) on the Gold Coast, Australia, from 1990 to 2012 were analysed in the present study. Environmental drivers that may affect entanglements of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) and common dolphins (Delphinus delphis) were selected. M. novaeangliae entanglements coincided with their annual migration, with the greatest occurrences in September. D. delphis were mostly entangled from March to November, with the greatest occurrences in June. For both species, entanglements primarily occurred when the wave height was between 0.5 and 1.25 m, the wave power was between 0 and 5 kW m–1 and the wind speed was between 12 and 19 km h–1. M. novaeangliae entanglements were significantly more likely to occur in low rainfall (<6 mm h–1), and D. delphis entanglements were more likely to occur during spring tides. There was a correlation between entanglements and the position of the East Australian Current’s (EAC) maximum velocity, with 73% of M. novaeangliae entanglements and 79% of D. delphis entanglements occurring when the EAC’s maximum velocity was west (shoreward) of its average position at 154°E. The present study provides the first set of possible management intervention targets associated with environmental conditions.
Marine and Freshwater Research
Environmental Engineering not elsewhere classified
Environmental Science and Management not elsewhere classified