Interactions between short-finned pilot whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus) and the Pelagic Longline Fishery in the Cape Hatteras Special Research Area
Short-finned pilot whales have a long history of interactions with Pelagic Longline (PLL) fisheries along the east coast of the United States. These interactions represent a threat to both the PLL fisheries’ economic interests and the whales themselves. The establishment of the Cape Hatteras Special Research Area (CHSRA) was enacted in the Pelagic Longline Take Reduction Plan in response to the high rate of interactions in this area. Through satellite-based tracking systems and PLL fisheries data, this study addressed the spatial overlap between fisheries and short-finned pilot whales by examining the distribution of the species, their relation to oceanographic variables, bycatch records, and fishing effort. Fishing effort and pilot whales overlap strongly in a large portion of the CHSRA. This study highlights the importance of the CHSRA and the need for continued protection in the future.