Acoustic alarms elicit only subtle responses in the behaviour of tropical coastal dolphins in Queensland, Australia

Berg Soto, Alvaro, Cagnazzi, Daniele, Everingham, Yvette, Parra, Guido J., Noad, Michael, and Marsh, Helene (2013) Acoustic alarms elicit only subtle responses in the behaviour of tropical coastal dolphins in Queensland, Australia. Endangered Species Research, 20 (3). pp. 271-282.

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Incidental bycatch in gill nets is the most serious of the global threats to marine mammals. Consequently, many management agencies wish to implement practical and efficient bycatch mitigation systems that both protect species of conservation concern and are readily adopted by fishermen. Australian snubfin Orcaella heinsohni and humpback dolphins Sousa chinensis occur in small fragmented populations along most of the remote coast of subtropical and tropical Australia, where they are caught in gillnet fisheries operated from small vessels. We experimentally investigated whether a commercially available acoustic alarm modified the behaviour of each of these species in the absence of a net. The movements and behaviour of both species changed subtly when the pingers were active, but the likelihood of the animals leaving an area was not significantly different from the controls. Our results suggest that this technological approach may not be effective in reducing the bycatch of these species. We suggest that further experimentation is unlikely to be cost effective and that government agencies should work with fishers and scientists to explore alternative mitigation measures.

Item ID: 32268
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1613-4796
Keywords: snubfin, humpback, dolphins, behaviour, pinger, bycatch, gillnets, Australia
Funders: Marine and Tropical Sciences Research Facility (MTSRF), Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), Sea World Research and Rescue Foundation, James Cook University (JCU), University of Queensland (UQ)
Date Deposited: 26 Mar 2014 04:23
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0608 Zoology > 060801 Animal Behaviour @ 60%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050211 Wildlife and Habitat Management @ 40%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960802 Coastal and Estuarine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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