Whale Migration... LightHawk Helping to Reduce Entanglement

wayneda40

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Today on a LightHawk combined IFR/VFR flight, we’ll be conducting an aerial survey of literally thousands of lobster and crab trap lines that endanger the migrating whales. Working with the Ocean Defenders Alliance, we hope to reduce the incidence of whale entanglement. Welcome aboard! Wayne, GeezerGeek Pilot
 
You surveyed “literally thousands” of lobster traps and you want people to virtually watch.
 
How many whales actually encounter death or harm?
 
How many whales actually encounter death or harm?
Good question... I'll check with my passenger/observer to get some metrics on the number of whale entanglements.
 
it was actually quite interesting, both from a pilotage POV and the mission itself.

Uh, it was an observation of an observer’s use of the word “literally” and how, through an offering of a video, it was submitted for virtual viewing. Hope this clears it up. Whales are cool. Ales are cold. Save one, savor the other. Good times.
 
What's the plan to reduce "entanglement"?
 
What's the plan to reduce "entanglement"?
Domenick, my understanding (I was just the pilot on this outing) is that the ODA plan and effort is multi-fold:
  • catalog where the traps are to assure that the commercial trappers are abiding by existing regulations/agreements on location and density of traps. My understanding is that the "density" of the trap lines is the parameter that most affects entanglement.
  • dive in areas of dense trap lines, determine which of the traps are abandoned (est ~10%).
  • float abandoned traps and other sea debris for removal by ship.
  • recycle or dispose of the debris responsibly.
  • lobby for funding of more responsible trap access methods (e.g. remote control mechanisms for trap surfacing, rather than tether lines).
A bit more detail on the ODA site.

Related: Here's an article on "Ropeless" trap retrieval.
 
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Domenick, my understanding (I was just the pilot on this outing) is that the ODA plan and effort is multi-fold:
  • catalog where the traps are to assure that the commercial trappers are abiding by existing regulations/agreements on location and density of traps. My understanding is that the "density" of the trap lines is the parameter that most affects entanglement.
  • dive in areas of dense trap lines, determine which of the traps are abandoned (est ~10%).
  • float abandoned traps and other sea debris for removal by ship.
  • recycle or dispose of the debris responsibly.
  • lobby for funding of more responsible trap access methods (e.g. remote control mechanisms for trap surfacing, rather than tether lines).
A bit more detail on the ODA site.

Related: Here's an article on "Ropeless" trap retrieval.

Mostly quite reasonable. I do a lot of wreck diving, and am quite familiar with areas of dense trap lines, and abandoned traps--shipwrecks provide great lobster habitat, and so they attract the lobstermen. It can get to be a bit of a mess underwater, and the lines do take a toll on marine mammals.

I'm skeptical about remote trap access being feasible. Putting battery operated acoustic modems on every trap, signaling position from an attached GPS receiver, and able to either deploy a coiled rope and float, or fill a lift bag with compressed gas or use some other variable buoyancy system will be enormously expensive. Making electronics work for long periods of time submerged in salt water isn't cheap, nor is engineering the mechanical components to work reliably. Trap prices would increase by some enormous multiplier, and the shellfish market can't support it.

Also, though I didn't see mention of it in the article, GPS signals don't penetrate water. The acoustic modems may work fine (hopefully not interfering with marine mammal communication), but they'd have no way to get position data.
 
Mostly quite reasonable. I do a lot of wreck diving, and am quite familiar with areas of dense trap lines, and abandoned traps--shipwrecks provide great lobster habitat, and so they attract the lobstermen. It can get to be a bit of a mess underwater, and the lines do take a toll on marine mammals.

I'm skeptical about remote trap access being feasible. Putting battery operated acoustic modems on every trap, signaling position from an attached GPS receiver, and able to either deploy a coiled rope and float, or fill a lift bag with compressed gas or use some other variable buoyancy system will be enormously expensive. Making electronics work for long periods of time submerged in salt water isn't cheap, nor is engineering the mechanical components to work reliably. Trap prices would increase by some enormous multiplier, and the shellfish market can't support it.

Also, though I didn't see mention of it in the article, GPS signals don't penetrate water. The acoustic modems may work fine (hopefully not interfering with marine mammal communication), but they'd have no way to get position data.

Gary, now that's experienced insight! For those of us ignorant on the topic (closest I've ever been to an active lobster or crab trap was +700' MSL on this flight), you've done a nice job clarifying that this entanglement is... (1) a legit problem and (2) a difficult problem to mitigate... hopefully not intractable. Seems the problem is worth working, as there are lives and livelihoods -- of whales and humans -- at stake.

Thanks for contributing to this discussion,
Wayne
 
I crab every summer for Dungeness crab off my kayak in Puget Sound. The crabs are named after the Dungeness Spit in Puget Sound. 48.174200° -123.147163°

Here's my boat rigged for crab:
2014-07-03.Rigged.for.Crab.2048.jpg

And here's a haul. It was immediately culled for the catch-limit of legal-sized males:
PS.Crabs.2048.jpg
 
I crab every summer for Dungeness crab off my kayak in Puget Sound. The crabs are named after the Dungeness Spit in Puget Sound. 48.174200° -123.147163°

Here's my boat rigged for crab:
View attachment 102823

And here's a haul. It was immediately culled for the catch-limit of legal-sized males:
View attachment 102824

Im pretty sure I saw at least one of those guys from your crab kennel in a movie with Sigourney Weaver.
 
I love crab, and lobster. I even took one of those touristy lobster boat demos when I was in Maine a couple months ago.
 
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