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Warning buoys for right whales installed along Massachusetts Bay
Date:4/28/2008

tween inbound and outbound shipping lanes, and each buoy listens in a 5-mile radius, providing information on where collision risks are highest. To help protect whales when they are quiet, alerts remain in effect around a buoy for 24 hours after a call is detected.

The buoy system was installed to reduce impacts by ships traveling to and from a new liquefied natural gas terminal, built last year by Northeast Gateway Deepwater Port in Massachusetts Bay, offshore of Boston. NOAA officials mandated that the company take measures to avoid collisions between right whales and the terminal's 90,000-ton supply tankers.

Under a $47 million contract with the company, the Lab of Ornithology will operate the buoy array over the terminal's 40-year expected lifetime. Liquefied natural gas tankers must now slow to 10 knots in response to buoy alerts and post lookouts for whales and sea turtles. Clark hopes the reduced speeds from tankers will set a precedent for other ships, which are not required to slow down.

Clark has spent 30 years developing this idea from basic, exploratory science into a real-world application.

"Scientific studies show that even the deaths of one or two breeding females each year could lead to the population's extinction," Clark said. "If all ships slow down for whales, it could make a real difference."


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Contact: Blaine Friedlander
bpf2@cornell.edu
607-254-8093
Cornell University Communications
Source:Eurekalert

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