Land-based observations of cetaceans

Observation from Gomera’s coast

LandbasedIn 2002 MEER e.V. carried out land-based observations of cetaceans for the first time. Based on a feasibility study we could show that from elevated view points on the coast it is possible to…

  1. generally observe and identify cetaceans
  2. document their interactions with boats
  3. guide whale watching boats to groups of cetaceans

 

In 2005 we continued the project. We aimed to explore the possibilies: How suitable are the collected data from land-based observations, what sightings can be made and what behavioural data can be collected? The study resulted in a final thesis of a biologist student and you can find the results and summary here.

In 2016 M.E.E.R. set himself the task of building a permanent observation station on La Gomera. We applied for funds and found cooperation partners at Gomera. The latest development of the project can be found here:

 

Berlin/La Gomera, December 2016. Currently, we are working on the setup of a station for land-based observations of cetaceans. In November 2016, we conducted successful test runs, land-based observations were documented. By guiding the whale watching boats from aboveaccording to aur land-based observations we were able to contribute to a sustainable whale watching management. Recently, IFAW  (International Fund for Animal Welfare) and the Beatrice-Nolte-Stiftung assured  M.E.E.R. e.V. financial support. We are very grateful for that – now the project can start!

In December 2016, the construction of the shelter began and we ordered professional optic equipment. First systematic data collection is planned to start in early 2017.

Here we go!

 

Background information

The method of land-based Whale Watching provides valuable insights about the animals’ movement patterns, behaviour on the water surface and cetacean-boat-interactions. A huge advantage is that no direct intervention is needed – the animals are not disturbed in their natural behaviour. Thus, it is possible to study cetaceans with and without the presence of boats in comparison. Furthermore, it is easy to monitor the whale watching vessels’ adherence of statutory requirements, and the distribution and course of whale watching boats can be actively influenced, depending on where the animals are observed from land. This results in less pressure on the animals at sea as well as a higher sighting success for the whale watchers on the boats – a valuable contribution to the sustainable management of whale watching.

The station is be located on a mountain in La Gomora’s South, about 250m/950 feet above sea level.  This position offers an optimal view on the outgoing boats as well as a nearly perfect panorama of the area in which the whale watching tours take place. Back in 2002, M.E.E.R. e.V. already realized first systematic land-based observation of cetaceans in a feasibility study.  Read more….

Project objectives

  • Establishment of a first (preferably year round operating) station for land-based observations of cetaceans
  • To contribute to the sustainable management of whale watching tourism off La Gomera by a) boat guidance aiming at an increased sighting success for the boats; b) distribution of boats in the observation area resulting in less pressure on the animals (groups and individuals) and c) setting a good example for other islands of the archipelago
  • Scientific studies on a) occurrence and distribution of cetacean species off La Gomera; b) behavioural reactions of animals towards boats and ships; c) monitoring of whale watching tourism off La Gomera; d) the adherence of statutory requirements

 

 

List of scientific publications by MEER e.V. …