Survey gaps put marine life at risk
Marine mammal populations could be at risk because only 6 per cent of the world’s ocean surface has been surveyed adequately.
Scientists at the University of St Andrews and the University of Freiburg, Germany, said there are “dangerous gaps in knowledge” about species of whales, dolphins and porpoises, leaving them vulnerable to the effects of human activity including military sonar and bycatch during fishing.
The team of academics studied more than 1,100 estimates of the abundance of the mammals reported in more than 400 surveys conducted worldwide between 1975 and 2005. A quarter of the world’s ocean surface has been surveyed, but only 6 per cent has been covered well enough to indicate trends in population size.
Human ability to protect cetaceans from threats, such as oil spills and seismic surveys, relies on “good information”.
Dr Nicola Quick, co-author of the research and honorary research fellow at the University of St Andrews, said: “The enormous data gaps we found in our study remind us that we still have a lot of work to do to predict whether vulnerable species might be using the waters that have never been surveyed.”
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