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Whale watching industry: a key platform to study the distribution, movements and social relationships of male sperm whales (P.macrocephalus)

Despite the research efforts carried out in the past, male sperm whales (P. macrocephalus) are still poorly known in the North Atlantic, and taking into account the high ecological importance of the species and the increasing value as target for a leading economic activity like the whale watching industry in the North of Norway, it is evidenced there is a urgent requirement to develop further studies to better understand the distribution, movements and social lives of the whales.The general aim of this thesis is to shed some light on the lives of male sperm whales (a key species for the development of the whale watching and tourism industry in Norway) and evaluate the synergy between the whale watching industry and research activities. The study area comprises the North Norwegian coast, between the Lofoten Islands and the coast of Troms. Survey effort will be developed from whale watching vessels equipped with hydrophones, land based surveys, independent line transects and other data collected from op portunistic platforms like fishing boats or ferries. The main research techniques to be used include photo-identification, acoustic analysis, genetics, stable isotope and fatty acid analysis, and spatial modeling among others.It is expected that the r esults on the distribution, movements, and social lives of sperm whales, will help to develop new touristic products for the company, expanding the area surveyed nowadays, or expanding the length of the whale watching season, generating a more robust tour istic offer.

Iva Kovacic
01.08.2011 - 01.08.2014