The last fluke of the trip: Preventing ship strike risk for humpback whales in Peru
Jeri, J.C., Guzman, H., and Leslie, A.
The Peruvian coastline represents the last fluke in the migration for humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) in the Eastern South Pacific, as well as the southern limit of their breeding grounds. However, it is also a region with high risk of ship strikes, which represents a global and little understood threat for cetaceans. Female humpback whales and their calves remain a vulnerable group, as they prefer shallower coastal waters, travel at a slower speed and spend significant amounts of time resting in the surface. In that sense, marine traffic organizing measures, like speed limits, TSSs and ATBAs, have proven to be effective at reducing whale mortality associated to ship strikes. However, Peru lacks these tools for the organization of transiting shipping vessels. It is important that key countries like Peru put in practice models of marine traffic ordering, following the example of neighboring countries, such as Costa Rica and Panama, as these contribute to marine ecosystem conservation as well as safeguarding human activities such as fisheries and tourism. Finally, an evaluation of mortalities due to ship strikes alongs the coast of Peru is also necessary for a better understanding of this threat in local waters.