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You Better Watch Out – Out There

Although the Minke whale is not considered under threat today (see below) they are as exposed to environmental pressures worldwide  as other species. Due to their coastal distribution, the possible negative impacts of human activities concentrating near coasts are likely to be very high, especially on local populations. In the St. Lawrence study area, boat traffic is extremely dense as whale watching and pleasure boats gather daily in summer and freighters and ferries pass regularly throughout the year. Worldwide, the Minke whales are also exposed to the negative impacts of human activities but little is known about the direct and indirect effects of such threats on local or global populations.

Such activities include :

a) Fisheries and over-exploitation

b) Entanglements in fishing gear

c) Disturbance from and collisions with boats and ships

d) Ingestion of debris and contaminants

e) Exposure to noise pollution

f) Habitat change

g) Climate change

h) Commercial and scientific whaling

To monitor and study the whales’ distribution and their lives today; it is necessary to also understand the effect of human activities locally, nationally and globally. Such knowledge will be vital for future conservation and management efforts especially in the context of global over-exploitation of marine resources, whaling, whale watching activities, and climate change.