Sighting consists of species identification, counting of number of animals sighted, their activity and also environmental data collection. In total, 12 species of cetaceans have been registered, the most sighted are fin whale, dark dolphin, cachalot, common dolphins and blue whale.
Highly Migratory Resources Monitoring project, Ecosystemic Approach, of IFOP Oceanography and Environment Department, has been carrying out Cetacean Sighting for four years. This activity is carried out on Abate Molina scientific vessel board during hydroacoustic and bio-oceanographic cruisesdevelopment .
Dra. Patricia Zárate, head of the project, explained “The sighting is made by Scientific Observers; They are technicians and professionals trained on marine species data collection, fishing activities and biological samples on board vessels or at landing ports. Based on this information, IFOP scientists can generate knowledge and provide scientific advice required by the country’s fisheries and aquaculture institutions; in particular the one required by the Fisheries and Aquaculture Undersecretariat, for our fisheries sustainable management .
Observers are located on Abate Molina ship bridge deck and by means of binoculars and taking all safety measures on board register small and large cetaceans. The sighting process consists of species identification, number of animals sighted counting, their activity and also environmental data collection ”.
Zárate added “These species identification often takes place from a distance, therefore, it is not easy, it requires a lot of experience, since sometimes you can only see the blow of a whale or its fins.
Since the beginning of this activity and up to date, a total of 20 cruises have been made, and more than 800 sightings have been recorded. The area covered by these cruises ranges from Arica to Corral. In total, 12 species of cetaceans have been registered, the most sighted are the fin whale, the dark dolphin, cachalot whales, common dolphins and blue whales.
With this activity we have improved our knowledge about these species distribution and their abundance in the Chilean Exclusive Economic Zone ”.
Zárate finally added “This information is of great relevance since it helps us to know different species populations size, key information to understand fishing activity impact when removing these species that are caught incidentally by several fleets in our country. If the populations of these species are made up of few individuals, the incidental capture and mortality of a few specimens in fishing gear and gear could have serious consequences in the medium term since some of these species are currently threatened with extinction ”.