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Post-mortem Research on Cetacean Ears - WC04008

The Agreement on the Conservation of Small Cetaceans of the Baltic and North Seas (ASCOBANS), of which the UK is a Party, came into force in 1994. Under ASCOBANS, signatory countries are required to co-operate in research and management measures to conserve small cetaceans in the Baltic and North Seas.
Acoustic disturbance is recognised by ASCOBANS as a potential threat to cetaceans and may be affecting their overall range and localised use of available habitat. Disturbance from ships' propellers in busy sea lanes, seismic activity, seal scaring devices at fish farms, sonar and recreational activity may all affect cetaceans to varying degrees. At the Meeting of the Parties to ASCOBANS hosted by the UK last year, the difficulty of proving the detrimental effects of acoustic disturbance on cetaceans was recognised. Parties were invited to support research into the effects of various sources of disturbance.
This proposed project would involve the histological examination of stranded cetaceans' ears, removed at post-mortem, for signs of damage, disease or abnormalities. The investigation would look in particular for signs of traumatic and degenerative changes associated with exposure to loud noise and/or blast trauma (eg from the use of explosives). The work would build upon the internationally-acclaimed research already being carried out under the DEFRA-funded cetacean strandings project
Project Documents
• Final Report : Post-mortem Research Feasibility Study on Cetacean Ears   (358k)
• Executive Summary : Post-mortem Research Feasibility Study on Cetacean Ears   (29k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2004

To: 2007

Cost: £30,000
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Zoological Society of London
Environmental Protection              
Marine conservation              
Nature conservation              
Fields of Study
Wildlife Conservation