Scientists to test noise deterrents meant to scare orcas after a rapid rise in boat rammings – DNyuz

Scientists to test noise deterrents meant to scare orcas after a rapid rise in boat rammings

Researchers are planning to develop and test noise deterrents meant to scare away orcas after a rapid rise in reports that the creatures are ramming boats off the Iberian coast.

“Some lines of development of acoustic deterrents are being developed that will be tested this summer, in order to try to find options for the protection of sailboats and minimize the number of interactions,” Antonio Bessa de Carvalho, president of the National Association of Cruises (ANC), told Portuguese news agency Lusa.

According to Lusa, the ANC, the Portuguese Navy and the Institute for the Conservation of Nature and Forests are holding meetings to try and find a way to stop orcas from damaging sailboats by ramming them and grabbing and ripping off their rudders.

Alfredo Lopez of the Grupo de trabajo Orca Atlantica, which is collaborating with the Portuguese government, told Insider the work is in the very early stages.

He added they are focusing on finding solutions that “comply with the legislation” and “do not cause environmental damage.”

Noise deterrents typically work by emitting pulses of high-frequency sound to scare away sea creatures from an area.

While there are many types of sound deterrents available, none have been specifically developed to work with orcas or sailboats.

“You will have to create it. He said that they don’t exist because “there was no need”.

One focus, Lopez said, is to ensure the deterrent does not contribute more noise to the ocean.

“Adding noise to the ocean could be detrimental for living creatures. That is why the previous comment would not develop continuous emission deterrents,” he said.

Dozens of reports of interactions between orcas and boats have been reported, most of which have taken place off the Iberian coast. The creatures’ motivations are not clear, but the behavior seems to be spreading among local pods of orcas.

One recent interaction was reported as far north as the Shetland islands, off the coast of Scotland.

An orca was seen in a video that was released Thursday disrupting a boat racing event last week. The video shows the animals repeatedly rubbing against the ship’s rudders, Insider previously reported.

“Three orcas came straight at us and started hitting the rudders. Insider reported that it was “impressive to see these orcas. They are beautiful creatures, but they can also be dangerous for our team.” Skipper Jelmer Van Beek agreed.

At the very least, two boats were sunk by the interaction. The exchange could leave boats incapable of steering and requiring rescue at sea.

“Sailboat owners are very concerned and are currently afraid to take their boats to the Algarve”, the southernmost region of Portugal, “as they do every year,” Bessa de Carvalho told Lusa.

Desperate sailors have been trying all sorts of techniques to keep orcas away from the boats, such as throwing sand over the side of the ship, navigating backward, hitting the orcas or throwing firecrackers and flares at them, throwing lemons in the water, or hitting dishes and kitchen items to make noise, none of which have been particularly effective, Lopez said.

The Grupo de trabajo Orca Atlantica recommends slowing down the boat’s engine if possible. That has worked in about 60% of cases, said Lopez.

For the time being, Lopez said the best way to protect boats is for sailors to “be informed.”

“Sailors can consult the website and GT Orcas mobile application (Google Play and Apple Store) to find out about hot spots, be prepared if they sail in those areas, avoid sailing at night and approach the coast, as far as possible,” he said.

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