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George Campsen's North Atlantic Right Whale Independent Study Document

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  • 1. INDEPENDENT STUDY 1 Table of Contents INDEPENDENT STUDY INTRODUCTION………………………………………………………………..2 THE STUDY…...……………………………………………………………………………………………………..6
  • 2. INDEPENDENT STUDY 2 INTRODUCTION Recently while meeting with members of the Charleston Pilots Association I became aware of a Federal regulatory matter that hinders not only the course and scope of Charleston Harbor Pilots’ work, but also commerce in and out of the Port of Charleston. On 10 October 2008 the Federal Register issued regulation 50 CFR Part 224.105 in order to protect the endangered North Atlantic Right Whale1. I am proposing to study North Atlantic Right Whale activity off the coast of South Carolina to effectively understand the specie’s migratory patterns and habits, so that I may present an alternate and less imposing law to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration at their hearing on May 16th 2013 in Jacksonville Florida. Federal regulation 50 CFR Part 224.105 is an effort to protect the endangered North Atlantic Right Whale from one of the leading causes of their death: ship strikes2. The new regulation created “speed zones” for vessels greater than 65 feet in length along the East Coast of the United States. These speed zones are only effective during certain months of the year, and follow the yearly migration of the Right whales as they move from the Northeast waters to their calving grounds off of Florida. Federal Regulation 50 CFR Part 224.105 divides the east coast of the United States into three different zones: Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Southeast. South Carolina
  • 3. INDEPENDENT STUDY 3 falls into the Mid-Atlantic category and is regulated from November 1st through April 30th of each year3. While this regulation is a minor inconvenience to private or recreational boaters, it impedes the effectiveness of the Charleston Harbor Pilots who deal solely with the movement of vessels that must adhere to the 10-knot speed regulation. Charleston’s shipping channel extends fifteen miles into the North Atlantic where it stops at the sea buoy. There the pilot boards incoming ships and de-boards outbound ships. Because pilot boats are greater than 65 feet in length, they must travel at a maximum speed of 10 knots to meet the incoming ship when the regulation is in effect. Once the pilot is on board the ship, he must also make the 15- mile sail back to port at a maximum speed of 10 knots. For outbound ships the process is simply reversed and the same regulations apply. Because Harbor Pilots are in the business of moving goods, it is critically important that they, like any business, operate as effectively as possible otherwise they cannot meet demand and may suffer economic losses due to unhappy customers. Because the Charleston Pilots are on a limited budget and have a limited staff, they cannot keep trade moving efficiently at a 10-knot speed. During the regulated period, pilots do not operate to full efficiency; therefore it is common for ships to wait for hours outside of the port of Charleston during the regulated period. In effect, the Port of
  • 4. INDEPENDENT STUDY 4 Charleston loses attraction for major shipping lines, hurting South Carolina’s economy as well as the Charleston Harbor Pilots. Throughout the course of my independent study, I will do a thorough review and analysis of the annual Right Whale reports posted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) whale watching team1 as well as comparing Right Whale Habits and regulations in certain regions and proposing alternative laws. This team flies off the coast of South Carolina and Georgia every day that the weather permits throughout the migratory season. For the team’s study purposes, South Carolina’s waters are divided into three separate flight zones: Northern, Middle, and Southern. Each day they alternate which zone they fly. As the team carries out their flights, they continually look for whales and report the date, latitude, longitude, and group size for every right whale sighting. They also report the survey area and Trackline miles flown on a daily basis4. After gathering and analyzing all of this data, I will produce a thorough yet concise presentation illustrating right whale habits and trends off of South Carolina. My goals for this study are two-fold. First and foremost, I hope that I will make a favorable and lasting impression on the Charleston Harbor Pilots as I work with and around them this semester. If I am successful in accomplishing that, my chances of becoming a harbor Pilot in Charleston Harbor will improve greatly. Second, I will 1 http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/mm/rightwhales/SoutheastRegionsContractsAerialSurveyReports.htm
  • 5. INDEPENDENT STUDY 5 deliver a thorough presentation to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 16 May 2013 in Jacksonville, Florida in hopes of changing the current regulations to one of two alternatives. If I can accomplish this goal then I will play a pivotal role in speeding up commerce and making Charleston Harbor Pilots’ lives easier on top of winning favor in the eyes of those who ultimately choose the next Pilot in Charleston Harbor.
  • 6. INDEPENDENT STUDY 6 THE BEGINNING At the beginning of my independent study I met extensively with Captain John, Cameron USCG Ret., who currently manages business affairs for the Charleston Pilots Association. During the initial meeting he imparted what knowledge he had of North Atlantic Right Whale habits, and we collectively devised a plan of how I should conduct my research. Following our meeting I familiarized myself with the federal regulations regarding ship speed, the ongoing yearly study of the Whales off South Carolina, and the traits and habits of these creatures up and down the eastern seaboard. After my brief initial study of the task, we met again to decide that the most effective and scientific way to pattern these whales would be using South Carolina’s annual reports prepared by NOAA’s whale watching team as our database. Later I will explain the details of the NOAA team as well as the methodology for the flights off South Carolina and how I used that information in my research. Upon determining what data I was going to use for my database, Captain Cameron and I collectively decided on an area of interest as well as a time frame. Because I believe whale activity differs throughout South Carolina’s coastal waters, and that my focus should be on Charleston Harbor, I chose to study the area that extends 20 nautical miles to the north and south of Charleston harbor. In terms of latitude, this area ranges from 32° 20’ N to 33° N. Next I viewed the annual Right Whale reports,
  • 7. INDEPENDENT STUDY 7 discovering that they extend back to the 2004-2005 migratory season. With that information I decided to use the reports for seasons 2004-2005 through 2011-2012 to hopefully gather enough information to create a long-term picture of whale activity off the coast of South Carolina. NOAA’S WHALE WATCHING TEAM As I previously mentioned, NOAA federally funds a whale watching team of four trained professionals who are responsible for documenting North Atlantic Right Whale activity off the coast of South Carolina each migratory season. This team is composed of one pilot, one co-pilot, and two observers who live on the Isle of Palms, South Carolina from November 15th to April 15th, flying the coast of South Carolina every day that the weather permits, spotting and recording whales in the area. Following is the team’s description of how they methodically fly the coast of South Carolina: “The SC survey area for the 2005/2006 season extended from North Myrtle Beach, SC to the northern end of Sapelo Island, GA. The survey area was divided into three sections: northern, middle and southern. The northern area extended from North Myrtle Beach, SC to Cape Romain, SC and consisted of sixteen southeast/northwest transect lines of varied lengths (35.1 - 35.3 nautical miles) which were flown at approximately 4 nm intervals. The middle area extended from Cape Romain, SC to Fripp Island, SC and consisted
  • 8. INDEPENDENT STUDY 8 of sixteen southeast/northwest transect lines of varied lengths (35.3 - 35.4 nm) which were also flown at approximately 4 nm intervals. The southern section extended from Hilton Head Island, SC to Sapelo Island, GA and consisted of fourteen east/west transect lines of varied lengths (11.7 – 29.0 nm) which were flown at 3 nm intervals (figure 1). The northern and middle transit lines were flown in a southeast/northwest direction as opposed to the east/west direction of the southern section in order to cover a larger bathymetric range as well as to provide visual data to substantiate the acoustic data collected by passive detection devices located in the area. A complete northern survey consisted of 563.4 nm of trackline flown. A complete middle survey consisted of 565.2 nm of trackline flown. A complete southern survey consisted of 323.5 nm of trackline flown (table 1). These totals do not include miles flown in transit to, from, and between transect lines. The survey aircraft departed from East Cooper Airport in Mt. Pleasant, SC each day. After completing half of the survey lines for the day, the plane would break for fuel and to provide a break for observers to avoid observer fatigue. When flying in the northern section, the plane would refuel at Georgetown Airport in Georgetown, SC. In the middle section the plane would refuel at East Cooper Airport. In the southern section, the plane would refuel at Hilton Head Airport in Hilton Head, SC or at Frogmore Airport in Beaufort, SC. The plane returned to East Cooper Airport at the end of each normal survey day. Without whale sightings, a complete northern survey
  • 9. INDEPENDENT STUDY 9 took approximately 7.9 hobbs hours to finish, a complete middle section took approximately 7.6 hours, and a complete southern section took approximately 6.2 hours. This includes transit times to and from the airports.”2 Understanding how the surveys were conducted and how the Tracklines worked, I set out to determine which Tracklines, and what percentage of each one were in my area of interest. In doing so I plotted all of the Tracklines’ latitude and longitude points in Excel, added a trend line, the 20 nautical mile barrier, and my North and South barriers to my area of interest. Upon completion I overlaid this on the nautical chart below: 2 http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/pdf/05_06%20SCGA%20Final%20Report.pdf
  • 10. INDEPENDENT STUDY 10 Starting there I needed to use my own discretion in determining what percentage of the Trackline was in my area of interest and how many miles were flown in my area of interest on a given day. Following is my methodology for determining “Trackline Miles” as well as any assumptions made in Trackline work. “TRACKLINE SCIENCE” Assumptions/ Potential Questions: Assumption #1 regarding Tracklines: Tracklines are counted from North to South in the South Carolina / Georgia (SCGA) survey region. There are 46 total Tracklines, with at least a portion of Tracklines 10-31 falling within the range of 32° 20’N to 33°N
  • 11. INDEPENDENT STUDY 11 In my Research I have the Tracklines listed as being the same for every year when the reports say that they changed in both location and in numerical value. This is due to the fact that: Tracklines are the same for: All years 2004-2011 - In the 2007-2008 report NOAA Changed the input method of the Latitude and Longitude Coordinates: o From degrees and MINUTES to Decimal place. o For example: here are the data points for Trackline 1 in the 2006- 2007 season  Latitude West- 31 34.8  Longitude West- -81 7.8  Latitude East- 31 34.8  Longitude East- -80 34.2 - Here are the data points for Trackline 1 in the 2007-2008 season- they changed the input method but not the value  Latitude West- 31.58 34.8/.6= 58  Longitude West- -81.13 7.8/.6= 13  Latitude East- 31.58 34.8/.6= 58  Longitude East -80.57 34.2/.6= 57 From 2007-2008 forward, the reports used a decimal system instead of the degrees and minutes, but the values remain the same. - Trackline location description changes from Sapelo Island, GA to St. Catherine’s Island GA from 2005-2006 to 2006-2007 even though the Latitude/ Longitude remains the same. A small inlet separates these locations and I am assuming that the study uses the center of the inlet as its last Trackline point, therefore the names are interchangeable. Assumptions made on Trackline miles flown between 32° 20’ N to 33°N. I Have found that Tracklines 10-31 (Counting the south Carolina surveys North to South) have at least some of the line within the boundary of 32° 20’ N to 33°N. For Northern surveys 2004-2006: - The first nine (9) Tracklines are not within the ranges of 32° 20’ N to 33°N, therefore miles flown in that region will not be counted. Surveys were flown
  • 12. INDEPENDENT STUDY 12 from north to south with the westernmost point of the northernmost Trackline being the starting point for each day’s flights. METHODOLOGY FOR MEASURING DISTANCE FOR FLIGHTS FLOWN BETWEEN 32° 20’ N to 33°N. I devised my own methodology to determine just how many miles were flown in my area of interest (32° 20’ N to 33°N) on a daily basis. Each day’s flights covered one area- either the northern area, middle area, or the southern area. Both the northern and middle areas have part of their Tracklines between the latitudes 32° 20’ N to 33°N while the southern area does not. The northern area has approximately 179.5 out of 563.4 Trackline miles in my area of interest. The middle area has approximately 389.4 out of 565.2 Trackline miles in my area of interest. During the 2004-2005 and 2005-2006 seasons the flights started at the westernmost point of the northernmost Trackline for the specified area (North, Middle, or South). During the 2006-2007 season the protocol changed and the flights started at the westernmost point of the southernmost Trackline for the specified area. I calculated the Trackline miles flown for each year independently so it was easy to compensate for this change. In order to calculate how many miles were flown over 32° 20’ N to 33°N, I charted all of the Tracklines off of South Carolina in an Excel scatterplot. In doing this, I plotted both the easternmost and westernmost Latitude/Longitude points for every Trackline and then created a trend line for each set of coordinates. This drew a straight line between the two exact Latitude and Longitude points and created the exact Trackline that the airplane flies. After I had all 46 Tracklines plotted, I created straight lines at the latitudes of 32° 20’ N and 33°N to mark where my area of interest ended. Naturally my area of interest cut many of the Tracklines into fractions. So I then zoomed in and approximated what percentage of the Trackline fell into my area of interest. Once I had the Tracklines plotted and percentages assigned to each, I entered the information for the length of the Tracklines (taken off the Right Whale Annual Reports) into Excel and could then determine how many miles were flown in my area of interest in a particular flight.
  • 13. INDEPENDENT STUDY 13 Below is an example of my work. These are the seven southernmost Tracklines in the northern area of study. Trackline Length (nm) % of Trackline Total Total Within 32° 20’ N Miles Miles to 33°N Flown w/in Area 10 35.2 33% 351.8 11.6 11 35.2 50% 387 29.2 12 35.2 66% 422.2 52.4 13 35.3 75% 457.5 78.9 14 35.3 90% 492.8 110.7 15 35.3 95% 528.1 144.2 16 35.3 100% 563.4 179.5 By the time the plane has reached Trackline 10 it has already flown 351.8 miles with zero being in my area of interest. I noticed that approximately one third of Trackline 10 is in my area of interest, so by the time that the plane finished Trackline ten they would have flown approximately (35.2 X .33) 11.6 miles in my area of interest. From there I have periodic calculations at the end of each and every Trackline, including how many miles fall in my area of interest. The same process was used for the Middle region. Flights in the Southern Region were not counted as, all Tracklines are south of 32° 20’ N. The Trackline miles flown for each day and the region flown are listed in chart form in the annual Right Whale reports. These charts are where I gathered all of my Trackline miles flown data. Following is an example of the chart:
  • 14. INDEPENDENT STUDY 14 For each day and determined how many Trackline miles were flown in my area of interest per day, and then added those numbers to determine monthly Trackline miles flown within my area of interest. The chart below is an example my monthly breakdown of Trackline miles flown per year and in total. I used these numbers to determine my statistic of Whales seen/ per 1000 Trackline miles flown, which is shown on the second data set below. 9 flew a dedicated search to relocate the carcass. The crew found and documented a dead humpback roughly 1 nm NE of the reported position from the previous day. No survey was flown due to high seas. 3.3 flight hours were used to locate the dead whale. Table 2: Survey effort for the SCRW surveys conducted from 24 November 2005 - 15 April 2006. S = southern survey, N = northern survey, M = middle survey. Date Complete Surveys Partial Surveys Survey HobbsTime Total trackline milesflown Trackline milesflown inBeaufort SS<3 Numberof whalesseen Comments 15-Nov-05 1.3 test flight 1-Dec-05 M 8.1 527.2 268.5 2 3-Dec-05 N 8.2 552.9 493 2 5-Dec-05 S 3.5 137.7 55.6 0 7-Dec-05 N 8.4 563.4 152 0 10-Dec-05 N 6.9 492.8 296 0 12-Dec-05 S 6.2 261.4 67.3 2 16-Dec-05 M 4.1 190.6 92.2 0 17-Dec-05 M 2.7 168.7 0 0 19-Dec-05 S 4.3 207.7 207.7 0 20-Dec-05 M 1.9 106.5 7.3 0 23-Dec-05 N 7.6 538.5 320 0 24-Dec-05 S 6.8 323.5 323.5 0 27-Dec-05 M 8.3 565.2 220.2 0 28-Dec-05 N 7.9 563.4 112.06 0 30-Dec-05 S 5.9 323.5 287.4 2 1-Jan-06 M 6.4 282.4 282.4 0 4-Jan-06 S 7.4 323.5 323.5 12 11 individuals, 1 resight 5-Jan-06 M 3.6 207.6 12.4 0 Year 2004- 2005 2005- 2006 2006- 2007 2007- 2008 2008- 2009 2009- 2010 2010-2011 M o n t h November 0 0 389.4 0.00 1137.8 1065.3 887.7 December 2833.6 2043.5 1312.4 929.6 1276.5 681.9 1928.1 January 2190.7 2571.2 845.3 1296.1 1237 2543 1437.2 February 1419.3 2175.9 1194.2 1416.1 2665 1277.1 772.2 March 2909.7 1827.5 1107.4 2186.4 2653.5 2277.8 1263.8 April 1235.5 1234.7 713.1 864 568.9 994.9 1519.2
  • 15. INDEPENDENT STUDY 15 2004-2005 Month November December January February March April TOTALS Trackline Miles Flown/1000 0.00 2.83 2.19 1.42 2.91 1.24 10.59 Whales Seen 32° 20' to 33° 0 6 2 0 6 0 14 Whales Seen 32° 20' to 33°/ 1000 Trackline Miles #DIV/0! 2.1 0.9 0.0 2.1 0.0 1.3 DETERMINIG THE DATE AND LOCATION OF SPECFIC WHALE SIGHTINGS RECORDING THE SIGHITNGS After conceptually creating the study and a method for determining how many Trackline miles were flown in my area of interest, I entered individual whale sightings. I searched the Internet extensively and found many copies of the annual reports, but could not download them neatly into an excel spreadsheet. I contacted NOAA, the Sea to Shore Alliance, members of the NOAA Whale Watching team as well as The Wildlife Trust Aquatic Conservation Program, but found that no one could provide me with this data in an organized, spreadsheet format. I then decided to manually enter all of the data from the annual South Carolina reports into an excel spreadsheet.
  • 16. INDEPENDENT STUDY 16 In order to accurately pin individual sightings for each whale, I recorded all of the sightings from the aerial surveys, sorting the data to display only whales within the ranges of 32° 20’ N and 33°N. I did this on a yearly basis and further sorted the sightings by month. Here is a brief example of some of the entries for the 2004-2005 Whale season: Date Longitude Latitude EGNO 4-Dec -81.02 31.70 1245 4-Dec -81.02 31.70 5-Dec -79.81 32.47 2040 7-Dec -79.57 32.81 1246 7-Dec -79.57 32.81 CALF As you can see, I included date, Latitude, Longitude, as well as the EGNO number, which is essentially an identification number for a specific whale. Once I entered all of the information for the years 2004-2005 through 2010-2011 and filtered the data, I created a scatterplot graph to give a visual representation of whale sightings for that specified year between the ranges of 32° 20’ N and 33°N. I formatted the scatterplot so the gridline values lined up with the Latitude and Longitude marks of the nautical chart. From there I scaled the gridlines to match the Latitude and longitude marks, and then made the gridlines invisible once I had the Latitude and Longitude correctly positioned. I also included on the chart the shipping channel, the 20- nm speed zone, as well as frequent headings from the sea buoy (displayed in yellow). The bottom half of the Power Point slide below shows said plot for the 2004-2005 migratory season:
  • 17. INDEPENDENT STUDY 17 Also on this slide is perhaps the most important piece of data that I uncovered in all of my research. In the top-left corner is a bar graph displaying the distribution of the whale sightings off the coast of South Carolina for the given migratory season, Trackline miles flown, and whales seen/ 1000 Trackline miles flown. My created statistic of “Whales seen/ 1000 Trackline miles flown” not only gives the viewer an accurate portrayal of when the whales are here and when they are not, it also “levels the playing field” and shows whales seen relative to effort. This method nullifies the argument: “Well we haven’t seen as many whales during November and April because we haven’t been flying as much”. With my statistic I am comparing 2004- 2005 Right Whale Sigh ngs between the ranges of 32°20’N and 33°N 12 Whales Sighted 9 Whales Sighted 8 Whales Sighted 6 Whales Sighted 4 Whales Sighted 3 Whales Sighted 2 Whales Sighted 1 Whale Sighted 2004-2005 Data Total Whales Sighted: 14 Percentage within Speed Zone: 100% Percentage outside of Speed Zone: 0% 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Novem ber Decem ber January February M arch April Trackline Miles Flown/1000 Whales Seen 32° 20' to 33° Whales Seen 32° 20' to 33°/ 1000 Trackline Miles
  • 18. INDEPENDENT STUDY 18 Whales seen per 1000 miles flown, and looking at the numbers it is clear that the whales are not here in large numbers during the months of November and April. With this piece of data one can determine whale density by month. After creating similar bar graphs for each migratory season, I created a Long-term average graph (from 2004-2012) to accurately depict when the whales are and aren’t off the coast of South Carolina. The said graph is shown below: Interestingly enough, the long-term average is a bell curve peaking between February and March, with virtually no whale sightings in the months of November and absolutely zero in April. 0.00 10.00 20.00 30.00 40.00 50.00 60.00 70.00 80.00 90.00 Trackline Miles Flown/1000 Whales Seen 32° 20' to 33° Whales Seen 32° 20' to 33°/ 1000 Trackline Miles
  • 19. INDEPENDENT STUDY 19 FINDINGS IN THE RANGE OF 32° 20’ N to 33° N My research clearly indicates that North Atlantic Right Whales are not numerous off the coast of South Carolina during the regulated months of November and April, making it un-necessary to regulate ship speed during these months. Although I acknowledge that my research deals solely with numbers and other people’s reports, I have speculated as to the reasons of the whales’ absence during these periods. The North Atlantic Right Whales primarily inhabit the region in the Northeast known as the gulf of Maine. Each year some of the whales migrate down the coast to the calving grounds off of Florida. There they give birth and then return north with their calf. I believe that the Mid-Atlantic region of the East Coast is regulated too broadly. From Block Island Sound to Brunswick, Georgia, the coast is subjected to the same time frame for the speed regulations. In my opinion this is “painting with too wide of a brush”. I believe that because South Carolina is at the southern end of the migratory route, the whales arrive late and leave early, making it is unnecessary for South Carolina to be regulated during the months of November and April. CHARLESTON HARBOR’S TRACK RECORD WITH RIGHT WHALE STRIKES
  • 20. INDEPENDENT STUDY 20 Some may look at the facts and argue that the regulations enacted in 2008 have been so successful that there have been no whale strikes off the coast of South Carolina since. While this is something to be proud of, the port of Charleston has never had a recorded ship strike on a North Atlantic Right Whale. Ever. In fact no Right Whales have ever been found dead along the entire coast of South Carolina due to ship strike. Furthermore, South Carolina is the farthest state from any confirmed ship strike. Below is a map of North Atlantic Right Whale ship strikes. Note the ship strike symbols in red.
  • 21. INDEPENDENT STUDY 21 UP NORTH After examining the area around Charleston Harbor and finding some fairly significant data I decided to point my research in a new direction- northward to the ports of: Boston, Portland, Portsmouth, Eastport, Belfast, and Bar Harbor- all ports that use the Gulf of Maine. As I previously mentioned, the main habitat for the North Atlantic Right whale is the Gulf of Maine. While this region does have 10-knot speed regulations like South Carolina, these regulations cover a minimal area rendering many whales unprotected. In researching the Gulf of Maine, I searched the Internet and found that I could in fact download information for the whale sightings in the northeast. I downloaded the sightings and began by sorting them by Latitude, taking only sightings that fell between the Latitudes of 40°N and 46°N. Upon completion I plotted these sightings on an excel scatterplot and once again overlaid them onto a nautical chart. I also included the three different speed zones in that region to show how many whales are protected and how many whales are unprotected. Using the SUMIF function for the throughout the years 2006-2011, I found that in the gulf of Maine region there are an average of 2126.7 whales seen annually with 38.52% of them sighted outside of protected speed zones. Furthermore, 34.97% (an average of 743.7 annually) of whales in the Gulf of Maine region are seen with no regulations are in effect. This is a stark contrast to South
  • 22. INDEPENDENT STUDY 22 Carolina where there have been 0 whales reported out of the regulated time period within the last three years. Below is a chart for 2010, a fairly average year for that region with a total of 1748 sightings with 38.16% of those sightings being outside of the protected speed zones. Even at first glance it is apparent that there are substantially more whales in that region than there are in South Carolina and that the percentage of unprotected whales is also substantially more. Jan 1- May 15 Mar 1- Apr 30 Apr 1-Jul 31 h p://www.charts.noaa.gov/OnLineViewer/13009.shtml -71 -70 -69 -68 -67 -66 -65 2010NortheastSighngs AllSighngs:Aerial,Opportunisc,USCG,Shipboard,WhaleWatch, Acousc,Commercial
  • 23. INDEPENDENT STUDY 23 Upon plotting this data I then asked: well how many ships really skirt the speed zones to the north rather than staying in the channel all the way out? After reading up on this I found that most ships leaving the six ports for Canada, Europe, The Mediterranean, Africa, and India skirt the speed zones and go as fast as they wish through this whale-rich region. I created graphs for the two regions utilizing AIS ship movements plots and my whale graph overlay for the year 2010 and they are shown below. I ask that you take the time to notice the astounding difference in vessel movement’s per whale seen as you analyze which region is creates a larger risk for whales: 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 -71 -70 -69 -68 -67 -66 -65 -71.00 -70.50 -70.00 -69.50 -69.00 -68.50 -68.00 -67.50 -67.00Note the large amount of unregulated ship ac vity in this area. In this region an average of 1315.5 ships leaving the Ports of Boston, Portsmouth, and Portland avoid regulated areas so as to steam at full cruising speed. In this area 38.5% or an average of 819.7 whales are seen outside of the regulated areas annually. 2010 (AIS) Vessel Traffic with 2010 Whale sigh ngs overlay and speed zone boundaries
  • 24. INDEPENDENT STUDY 24 Note the large amount of ship activity just to the north of the speed zone. This is an astounding number of ships that are traveling at full speed in an incredibly whale rich environment. Also we must take note that over 34% of these whales are seen when no regulations are in effect. In South Carolina only 24% of whales are reported outside of the regulated speed zones under current regulations with 0% of whales reported when the regulations are not in effect. This means that in the 40-mile band off of Charleston that stretches from 32° 20’ N to 33° N there is an average of 5.86 whales that are unregulated annually. If the government is content with the figure 38.52% in the Gulf of Maine, 2010 (AIS) Vessel Traffic with 2010 Whale sigh ngs overlay and speed zone boundaries Note the large amount of regulated ship ac vity in this area with very li le whale ac vity. In this region 100% of ships leaving Charleston Harbor are slowed to 10 knots un l they reach the 20 mile line. In the 40 nau cal mile stretch around Charleston an average of 5.86 whales are seen outside of the regulated areas annually.
  • 25. INDEPENDENT STUDY 25 then why would there be a problem dropping the months of November and April from the regulations? This would raise Charleston’s total unprotected whale percentage from 30% to 32%. Over the past eight migratory seasons the data recorded by the aerial surveys shows that out of the 203 whales seen from 32° 20’ N to 33° N only four were reported in the months of November and April. Why, then could we not drop those two months of the regulations and raise our unprotected whale rate by 2% to 32%? This would aid in commerce while affecting a minute number of whales. CONCLUSIONS/SOLUTIONS After studying the of the annual North Atlantic Right Whale reports, I believe that there is conclusive evidence to state that Right Whale density off the state of South Carolina is quite small. Furthermore, South Carolina is at the tail end of their migration south and at the forefront of their migration north. That being said, it is unreasonable to regulate the entire east coast from Block Island Sound to Brunswick, Georgia on the same time frame. Clearly there are not a significant number of whales off the coast of South Carolina during the months of November and April, therefore I feel that the East Coast regulations should be broken down into smaller geographic areas.
  • 26. INDEPENDENT STUDY 26 Upon studying this matter I have come up with two solutions to the current law in South Carolina: 1. Implement mandatory Dynamic Management Areas a. I have noticed that North Atlantic Right whales are use South Carolina’s coast quite sporadically, and are by no means seen here every day of the six month regulated period. I feel that there is no need for ships to be slowed when no whales are off of our coast. This being said, I feel that mandatory DMA would be a better alternative to the current laws. I believe that the government should issue a mandatory, two-week DMA for a twenty-mile radius around every sighting off of South Carolina i. This would protect the whales when they are here, while allowing ships to travel efficiently when the whales are not here. 2. My second alternative to the law would be to reduce the regulation period from six to four months. My research clearly indicates that whale numbers off the coast of South Carolina are negligible during the months of November and April. I propose that NOAA reduces the “speed-zone” time to exclude the months of November and April. Currently we are slowing down ships for a negligible amount of whales.
  • 27. INDEPENDENT STUDY 27
  • 28. INDEPENDENT STUDY 28 References 1http://ecos.fws.gov/tess_public/pub/stateListingAndOccurrenceIndividual.jsp?sta te=SC&s8fid=112761032792&s8fid=112762573902 2 http://cfr.regstoday.com/50CFR224.aspx#50_CFR_224p105 3 http://www.nero.noaa.gov/shipstrike/doc/compliance_guide.pdf 4http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/mm/rightwhales/SoutheastRegionsContractsAerial SurveyReports.htm