Presentation Title

How does Covid-19 lockdown impact boating and Humpback whale singing activity?

Project Collaborators

Laura May Collado (Collaborating Mentor, Department of Biology, University of Vermont), Jose David Palacios (Collaborating Mentor, Fundacion Keto), Juan Jose Alvarado (Department of Biology, University of Costa Rica)

Abstract

The Wildlife Refuge of Caño Island in Costa Rica is an important breeding ground for southern Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae). The predictable occurrence of these whales has stimulated the growth of boat-based whale watching in this area. Male humpback whales sing complex songs to attract mates and compete with other males. Previous studies have found a potential negative relationship between boat occurrence and whale signing activity. However, such relationships are difficult to test without adequate controls. The Covid-19 lockdowns provide a rare opportunity to test this observation. We used autonomous underwater recorders to study boat and whale singing activity. We generated presence-absence data for whales and boats from September 2019 and 2020. We predict that boat presence will decrease and humpback whale song detections will increase during Covid-19 lockdowns. This provides a unique glimpse at the effects of boat activity on male humpback whales singing activity and can lead to policy that regulate more effectively tour-boats in their breeding area.

Primary Faculty Mentor Name

Laura J May Collado

Status

Undergraduate

Student College

College of Arts and Sciences

Program/Major

Environmental Sciences

Primary Research Category

Biological Sciences

This document is currently not available here.

Share

COinS
 

How does Covid-19 lockdown impact boating and Humpback whale singing activity?

The Wildlife Refuge of Caño Island in Costa Rica is an important breeding ground for southern Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae). The predictable occurrence of these whales has stimulated the growth of boat-based whale watching in this area. Male humpback whales sing complex songs to attract mates and compete with other males. Previous studies have found a potential negative relationship between boat occurrence and whale signing activity. However, such relationships are difficult to test without adequate controls. The Covid-19 lockdowns provide a rare opportunity to test this observation. We used autonomous underwater recorders to study boat and whale singing activity. We generated presence-absence data for whales and boats from September 2019 and 2020. We predict that boat presence will decrease and humpback whale song detections will increase during Covid-19 lockdowns. This provides a unique glimpse at the effects of boat activity on male humpback whales singing activity and can lead to policy that regulate more effectively tour-boats in their breeding area.