Cole Tim

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  • Presentation
    Don’t assume it’s ghost gear : accurate gear characterization is critical for entanglement mitigation [poster]
    (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 2017-10-25) Henry, Allison G. ; Barco, Susan G. ; Cole, Tim ; Johnson, Amanda ; Knowlton, Amy R. ; Landry, Scott ; Mattila, David K. ; Moore, Michael J. ; Robbins, Jooke ; van der Hoop, Julie ; Asmutis-Silvia, Regina
    Entanglement is a significant conservation and welfare issue which is limiting the recovery of a number of marine species, including marine mammals. It is therefore important to reliably identify the causes of these events, including the nature of the entangling gear in order to reduce or prevent them in the future. A recently published review of marine debris assessed 76 publications and attributed a total of 1805 cases of cetacean entanglements in “ghost gear”, of which 78% (n=1413) were extracted from 13 peer reviewed publications. We examined the 13 publications cited in the review and found that the specific gear type or status of gear involved in the reported events was rarely mentioned beyond the fact that it was fishing related. This is likely due to the fact that determinations of debris as the entangling material are very difficult. In fact, in reviewing 10 years of large whale entanglement records for the U.S., the authors of another study reported that Hawaii was the only region in which any entangling gear was positively identified as ghost gear. The assumption that entangling gear is marine debris unless otherwise stated is dangerous because it could impact efforts to modify or restrict risk-prone fishing in key marine mammal habitats. Entanglement in actively fished gear poses a very real threat, and claims that only lost or abandoned fishing gear is responsible for entanglements can undermine conservation efforts.
  • Preprint
    Rebuttal to published article “A review of ghost gear entanglement amongst marine mammals, reptiles and elasmobranchs” by M. Stelfox, J. Hudgins, and M. Sweet
    ( 2016-11) Asmutis-Silvia, Regina ; Barco, Susan G. ; Cole, Tim ; Henry, Allison G. ; Johnson, Amanda ; Knowlton, Amy R. ; Landry, Scott ; Mattila, David K. ; Moore, Michael J. ; Robbins, Jooke ; van der Hoop, Julie
    We reviewed the findings of the recently published article by Stelfox et al. (2016): “A review of ghost gear entanglement amongst marine mammals, reptiles and elasmobranchs” published in this journal (Volume 111, pp 6–17) and found that they are both flawed and misleading as they do not accurately reflect the prevalence of “ghost gear” cases reported in the literature. While we commend the authors for recognizing the importance of attempting to quantify the threat and for recommending more comprehensive databases, the methods, results and conclusions of this review have not advanced the understanding of the issue. As authors of the papers on whale entanglements in the North Atlantic that were reviewed by Stelfox et al. (2016) and others who are knowledgeable about the topic, we provide specific comments regarding misrepresentations of both the source of entanglement (e.g., actively fished gear versus “ghost gear”) and the number of reported entanglements for whale species included in the North Atlantic.
  • Article
    In plane sight: a mark-recapture analysis of North Atlantic right whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence
    (Inter Research, 2021-12-02) Crowe, Leah M. ; Brown, Moira W. ; Corkeron, Peter ; Hamilton, Philip K. ; Ramp, Christian ; Ratelle, Stephanie ; Vanderlaan, Angelia S. M. ; Cole, Tim V. N.
    North Atlantic right whales Eubalaena glacialis are most commonly observed along the eastern seaboard of North America; however, their distribution and occupancy patterns have become less predictable in the last decade. This study explored the individual right whales captured photographically from both dedicated and opportunistic sources from 2015 to 2019 in the Gulf of St. Lawrence (GSL), an area previously understudied for right whale presence. A total of 187 individuals, including reproductive females, were identified from all sources over this period. In years when more substantial survey effort occurred (2017-2019), similar numbers of individuals were sighted (mean = 133, SD = 1.5), and dedicated mark-recapture aerial surveys were highly effective at capturing almost all of the whales estimated in the region (2019: N = 137, 95% CI = 135-147). A high rate of inter-annual return was observed between all 5 study years, with 95% of the animals seen in 2019 sighted previously. Capture rates indicated potential residencies as long as 5 mo, and observed behaviors included feeding and socializing. Individuals were observed in the northern and southern GSL, regions divided by a major shipping corridor. Analyses suggest that individuals mostly moved less than 9.1 km d-1, although rates of up to 79.8 km d-1 were also calculated. The GSL is currently an important habitat for 40% of this Critically Endangered species, which underscores how crucial protection measures are in this area.
  • Article
    Winter sighting of a known western North Atlantic right whale in the Azores
    (International Whaling Commission, 2023-02) Silva, Monica A. ; Steiner, Lisa ; Cascao, Irma ; Cruz, Maria Joao ; Prieto, Rui ; Cole, Tim ; Hamilton, Philip K. ; Baumgartner, Mark
    A right whale (Eubalaena glacialis) from the western North Atlantic population, sighted in the Azores, was subsequently found to have moved back to the northwest Atlantic. The whale was sighted in the Azores on 5 January 2009 travelling in a west-south westerly direction at a constant speed. A photographic match was found to an adult female in the North Atlantic Right Whale Catalogue. The whale’s previous last sighting, on 24 September 2008 in the Bay of Fundy, Canada, implies movement to the Azores of at least 3,320km in 101 days. It was subsequently resighted in the Bay of Fundy on 2 September 2009, 237 days after being seen in the Azores. This appears to be the only documented evidence of a western North Atlantic right whale outside its normal range in winter, and provides additional evidence of the potential for interbreeding between western North Atlantic right whales and the remnant eastern population.