Accidental collision with large boats and shipping vessels is the leading cause of right whale mortality today. We use GIS technology to understand the patterns and speed of ship traffic through commercial shipping lanes and around U.S. ports. We apply this information to our knowledge of right whale distribution patterns, and then make recommendations for alternative shipping patterns and speed limits.

Shipping Lanes

Large boats and commercial shipping vessels travel through internationally designated shipping lanes on their way to and from port cities. These shipping lanes increase navigational safety by regulating shipping traffic. But when shipping lanes bisect essential whale habitat, the potential for accidental collisions between the shipping vessels and whales increases dramatically. We employ GIS technology to determine when and where shipping lanes may be shifted to reduce this risk.

Bay of Fundy Shipping Lanes

Every summer and fall, large numbers of right whales congregate in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean to feed and breed. In addition to being an essential right whale habitat, the Bay of Fundy contains heavily traveled international shipping lanes. Learn more.

Roseway Basin Shipping Lanes

The Roseway Basin—approximately 30 nautical miles south of Nova Scotia—is an important socialization and feeding area for right whales. Large numbers of whales congregate here every summer and fall, where they feed and interact at or near the surface of the ocean. Learn more.

Ship Traffic Analysis

The Automatic Identification System (AIS) helps ships safely navigate and allows researchers and policy makers to gain an understanding of ship traffic in and around ports. When we combine this with our knowledge of right whale movement, we are able to prevent negative interactions between right whales and ships.

Mid-Atlantic Ship Traffic

The annual right whale migration passes through some of the most heavily traveled waters of the Mid-Atlantic. By tracking commercial shipping traffic, we gain a better understanding of the risk of accidental collisions. Learn more.

Southeast Ship Traffic

The coastal waters off Georgia and Florida are the only known North Atlantic right whale calving grounds in the world. Dense commercial shipping traffic presents a risk to right whale mothers and calves in this region. Learn more.