For my MSc Research Project I will be investigating, under the supervision of Professor Peter Tyack, how loud noise from ‘proximate vessel passes’ might affect long-finned pilot whale (Globicephala melas) behaviour in the Strait of Gibraltar, .
The Strait is an area of heavy vessel traffic and high underwater noise, but with limited space available for this species´ local population, which are still listed as ‘Data Deficient’ both globally and as a subpopulations in the Mediterranean (IUCN Red List). DTAG acoustic and behavioural data collected from 2012-2015 will be analysed and compared between ‘exposure periods’ (before, during and after each loud vessel noise event noise exposure) and ‘control periods’ to check for disturbance behavioural reactions relative to loud noise in terms of click rate, surfacing intervals and acceleration. Results will contribute to a first in depth analysis and description of this population’s baseline behaviour and underwater noise received by these animals. This could later help inform conservation management in the area in relation to anthropogenic disturbance.