July 14 2014

Whale Pinger Data Collection 2014

 

This is Fish Radio. I’m Stephanie Mangini.  Pingers could prevent whale problems. Learn how you can help after this…

 

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A Pinger is a small signaling device that is attached to fishing nets. Its sole purpose is to alert whales and other sea mammals of gear in the water. They are mandatory on the East Coast and in California, but in Alaska they are only being used voluntarily.   Kate Wynn- is a marine mammal specialist with Alaska Sea Grant.Pingers

 

“Pingers are designed with different frequency sounds.  This particular one is a three kilohertz, which is for whales, and they have been being used throughout Alaska.”

 

There has been a higher frequency device prior to the whale pinger that has been used for many years in the lower 48 and New England area to keep porpoises from getting tangled in nets.

 

“So in the last couple of years the whale frequency pingers have come out.  They are being used in South east; there are some being used here around Kodiak, and some being used in Sand Point.”    

 

Fishing nets are invisible to sea mammals. Pingers make the net acoustically visible.

 

“In Alaska with the whale frequency pingers is we haven’t really done a thorough study because it doesn’t happen very often where a whale goes into a net. But when people have had them on their nets the whales will approach within 50 yards and then casually swim around the end of the net and go around it.”

 

Wynn says they won’t keep whales from eating a fisherman’s catch, but in could help prevent damage to the gear.

 

“For the area where guys fish around whales and don’t want to whales to blow a hole in there net, it’s a very cheap insurance for them and the whales.”  

 

The Alaska Marine Advisory Program is starting to collect data on just how effective the pingers can be.

 

“We are trying to talk to fisherman that are using them and get an idea of when they use them, where they use them effectively, and how many are being used.”

 

Wynn adds that because it is infrequent for whales to get caught up in a net there has been little to no documentation yet. Log books are available to anyone wanting to volunteer to help gather more data for the program.

 

“As the populations recover, whether there are sperm whales off shore or killer whales or humpbacks, there will be more interaction with fishermen.”

 

Thanks to the assist of KFSK.

Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods – serving Alaska’s fishing communities since 1910. On the web at www.oceanbeauty.com. In Kodiak I’m Stephanie Mangini..

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