Human-wildlife Interactions at Sea (2017-2018)

The pelagic longline fishery in the mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. is embedded in long-standing cultural ties to place, identity and livelihoods. This fishery also experiences serious problems with marine mammal depredation of bait and catch, and incidental capture of short-finned pilot whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus).

This project addressed the critical intersection of whale conservation and traditional livelihoods by studying the history and dynamics of human-wildlife interactions in the pelagic longline fishery from ecological, behavioral, social and institutional perspectives.

The aim of the project was to better understand the history and dynamics of interactions between fishermen and the pilot whales that depredate the fishermen’s catch and occasionally become entangled in their gear. The team assessed how fishers’ behavior has adapted in response to conflict with the whales, how whales modify their behavior to interact with the fishery and how regulatory frameworks have shaped these interactions.

To identify potential solutions to the depredation problem, the team used a diverse set of approaches, including geospatial analysis, interviews with fishers, ethnographic observation of key stakeholder meetings and institutional analysis of regulations.

Team members conducted a geospatial analysis using satellite telemetry data from over 50 tagged pilot whales and locations of longline sets from Vessel Trip Reports and interviewed longtime fishermen along the U.S. East Coast. Team members also attended stakeholder meetings convened by the federal National Marine Fisheries Service and used ethnographic methods to understand how different stakeholders represent conflicts with pilot whales and interact with one another.

Team members also analyzed regulatory documents to examine how regulations have changed over time and the effects on human-whale interactions.


Summer 2017 – Spring 2018

Team Outcomes

Human-wildlife Interactions at Sea: Understanding Pilot Whale Depredation in Longline Fisheries (poster by Talia Buenrostro, Jason Dinh, Roosevelt Mesa Gutierrez, Briana Kleiner, Samantha McClendon, Lauren Pederson, Noah White, Lisa Campbell, Joseph Fader, Alejandro Garcia, Hillary Smith, Andrew Read, Danielle Waples), presented at Bass Connections Showcase, April 18, 2018

Pilot Whale Depredation in the Atlantic Pelagic Longline Fishery: An Interdisciplinary Approach (poster by Talia Buenrostro, Lisa Campbell, Jason Dinh, Joseph Fader, Briana Kleiner, Alejandro Garcia Lozano, Samantha McLendon, Roosevelt Mesa, Lauren Pederson, Andrew Read, Hillary Smith, Danielle Waples, Noah White; winner of Best Poster at Southeast and Mid-Atlantic Marine Mammal Symposium, March 23-25, 2018, Conway, SC)

Interactions between Short-finned Pilot Whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus) and Pelagic Longline Fisheries in the Cape Hatteras Special Research Area (CHSRA) (oral presentation by Roosevelt A. Mesa at Southeast and Mid-Atlantic Marine Mammal Symposium, March 24, 2018, Conway, SC)

Human-Wildlife Interactions: OBX and Fisheries Observer Program (article by Samantha McLendon)

This Team in the News

These Seniors Took Their Bass Connections Research Further and Graduated with Distinction

Students Present Research on Interactions between Whales and Fisheries


Bass Connections team members at SEAMAMMS

Team Leaders

  • Lisa Campbell, Nicholas School of the Environment-Marine Science and Conservation
  • Joseph Fader, Nicholas School - Ecology-Ph.D. Student
  • Andrew Read, Nicholas School of the Environment-Marine Science and Conservation
  • Hillary Smith, Nicholas School - Marine Science and Conservation-Ph.D. Student

/graduate Team Members

  • Alejandro Garcia Lozano, Marine Sci & Conservation-PHD
  • Roosevelt Mesa Gutierrez, Master of Environmental Management, Coastal Environmental Management, Geospatial Analysis

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Talia Buenrostro, Biology (BS)
  • Jason Dinh, Biology (BS)
  • Briana Kleiner, Environmental Sci/Policy (AB)
  • Samantha McLendon, Biology (BS)
  • Lauren Pederson, Environmental Sciences (BS)
  • Noah White, Environmental Sci/Policy (AB), Earth & Ocean Sciences (AB2)

/yfaculty/staff Team Members

  • Danielle Waples, Nicholas School of the Environment-Marine Science and Conservation