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Unique study to measure how vessel speed affects underwater noise and killer whales

July 21, 2017

Four Green Marine participants (Neptune Bulk Terminals, Seaspan ULC, Saam Smit Vancouver and the Vancouver-Fraser Port Authority) are among 54 marine shipping industry organizations to participate in a voluntary study, the first of its kind, to focus on the relationship between slower vessel speeds, underwater noise levels and effects on southern resident killer whales.
Between August 7 and October 6, 2017, the speed of participating vessels will be reduced to 11 knots through the water in Haro Strait, when it is feasible and safe to do so. Haro Strait is located between Vancouver Island’s Saanich Peninsula and San Juan Island and is an important summer feeding area for the endangered southern resident killer whale population. Approximately 900 deep-sea vessels will transit Haro Strait during the study period. Hydrophones will monitor ambient and vessel underwater noise, as well as the presence of whales, and automated vessel tracking will be used to monitor vessel speed.
The study is coordinated through the Enhancing Cetacean Habitat and Observation (ECHO) Program, in addition to a committee that includes representatives from B.C. Coast Pilots, BC Ferries, the Chamber of Shipping of British Columbia, Cruise Line International Association North West and Canada, Hapag-Lloyd, Holland America, the Shipping Federation of Canada, the Pacific Pilotage Authority, Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, Washington State Ferries and Transport Canada.

See the slowdown trial infographic

Photo credit: Vancouver Fraser Port Authority