The Washington Post reports that The Census of Marine Life’s Tagging of Pacific Predators (TOPP) project reveals that a region of the eastern Pacific Ocean just off the West Coast may be one the top "hotspot" for open ocean predators. The study, which involved researchers from five different countries, was recently published online at the journal of Nature.
The study tracked movement patterns of 23 species of ocean predators. Notable data included an elephant seal diving to a depth of 5,492 ft, and shearwater seabirds traveling over 39,790 miles over the course of 262 days. However, it was the nutrient rich waters of the California Current that garnered the most attention in the Post article, due to the fact that draws various marine animals from far and wide to a common meeting place. In the spring months, turtles, whales, sharks, tuna, and seabirds from throughout the Pacific converge off the West Coast to partake in the "nutrient upwelling."
Shark nets in Queensland will be fitted with “pingers” designed to alert migrating whales to the presence of shark nets, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. The move marks an attempt to help prevent whales from becoming entangled in the nets. In 2009, six whales were trapped in the shark nets, which have stirred up controversy in the past. All six of the whales trapped last year were successfully freed.
The shark nets are already equipped with pingers designed to alert dolphins. The whale pingers will a “longer and louder noise” as compared to the dolphin pingers, according to Primary Industries Minister Tim Mulherin, who went on to note that the pingers are designed only to alert the whales of the presence of the nets not to scare them away.
Multiple prototypes will be fitted to the nets this week as a test run. The goal is to have the alarms on all the shark nets by August when younger whales are more likely to come in close proximity to the nets.
In addition to the shark monitoring aspect, the Queensland government will also invest in new and improved acoustic alarms to alert whales and dolphins of the existence of shark nets." The new alarms will use a longer lower pitch signal at a louder volume to give cetaceans a more advanced warning of the nets. The shark nets have come under criticism due to whales and other marine life becoming entangled in them.
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