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dc.contributor.authorThaler, Andrew
dc.contributor.authorParsons, E. C. M.
dc.contributor.authorde Vos, Asha
dc.contributor.authorRose, Naomi A.
dc.contributor.authorSmith, Courtney
dc.contributor.authorFretz, Dominik
dc.identifier.citationThaler, A., Parsons, E.C.M., de Vos, A., Rose, N.A., Smith, C. and Fretz, D. (2019) Bot Meets Whale: Best Practices for Mitigating Negative Interactions Between Marine Mammals and MicroROVs. Frontiers in Marine Science. 6:506, 5pp. DOI: |
dc.description.abstractLow-cost, portable, observation-class, underwater remotely operated vehicles (microROVs), which can be transported and operated by a single user, are increasingly common tools in scientific, industrial, commercial, and recreational ocean application. Over the last decade, the use of microROVs has boomed; four microROV manufacturers were poised to ship over 10,000 “underwater drones” in 2018 (Thaler, personal observation). This nascent industry provides an affordable underwater observation solution for marine science, conservation, education, and citizen science programs, as well as community groups and other stakeholders wishing to conduct independentmarine environmental surveys and provides users with an opportunity to viewmarine wildlife with minimal disturbance (Figure 1). This surge in the availability of microROVs also presents several new challenges to marine species. As more robots enter the water, often in the hands of inexperienced recreational users, there is increased potential for detrimental human/marine mammal interactions. MicroROVs are highly portable and have been identified as potential vectors for invasive species (Thaler et al., 2015). MicroROVs are also capable of causing harm to fragile marine ecosystems from contact with sensitive structures or tether entanglement. One possible outcome of increasing recreational use of microROVs is the increased harassment of marine mammals. The availability of new tools that allow people to approach and view marine mammals while maintaining their own safety has, if managed poorly, the potential to significantly alter the behavior of marine mammals (Higham et al., 2014; Smith et al., 2016). An example of this is provided by the whale and dolphin watching industry, which has developed rapidly world-wide, in some cases with demonstrably negative impacts on targeted populations (Bejder et al., 2006; Barragán-Barrera et al., 2017). Consequently, international policy bodies have been working toward a universal set of best practice guidelines for cetacean viewing over the past decade (e.g., Iñíguez, 2013; ACCOBAMS, 2016). Though not directly comparable, similar discussions have happened over the use of uncrewed aerial vehicles operated in close proximity to marine mammals (Thaler, 2014). To better understand the potential risks and to establish an anticipatory framework to minimize negative interactions between MicroROV operators andmarinemammals, we, a group of six experts in microROVs and/or marine mammal tourism, conservation, and ecology, conducted a self-guided series of surveys to better identify the most likely and most damaging sources of harmful interactions between microROVs and marine mammals. We then established a set of best practice guidelines for the responsible operation of microROVs in the presence of marine mammals. Those guidelines, elaborated below, can be summarized as: 1. Educate users about the potential negative consequences of microROV operation in the presence of marine mammals. 2. Maintain situational awareness to avoid unintentional contact. 3. Maintain safe distances and avoid intentional contact. 4. Use microROVs as a tool to reduce the number of humans and large passenger vehicles on or in the water. 5. Avoid deployment where marine mammals are already active in an area.en_US
dc.rightsAttribution 4.0 International*
dc.subject.otherAnimal welfareen_US
dc.titleBot Meets Whale: Best Practices for Mitigating Negative Interactions Between Marine Mammals and MicroROVs.en_US
dc.typeJournal Contributionen_US
dc.subject.parameterDisciplineBirds, mammals and reptilesen_US
dc.bibliographicCitation.titleFrontiers in Marine Scienceen_US
dc.bibliographicCitation.issueArticle 506en_US
dc.description.adoptionNovel (no adoption outside originators)en_US
dc.description.methodologyTypeReports with methodological relevanceen_US Thaler

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