Collecting and analyzing whale sighting data effective in avoiding collisions - JR Kyushu Jet FerryWhen the story of the passenger death broke in April some western media facing news articles reported that some people blame the commercial whaling moratorium for the increasing numbers of accidents.
As it grows warmer, the whales in Tsushima strait head from the coast of Tsushima north to the coast of the Korean peninsula --- This was the finding of JR Kyushu Jet Ferry (Fukuoka), the operator of the "Beetle", a high speed ferry that connects Hakata and Pusan, after analyzing sighting data collected by crew members following a series of collisions with marine wildlife. When the Korean side of the joint operation experienced a collision in April, it was the first time such an accident had led to a [human] fatality, but making use of the data, the Beetle has paid special attention to sea areas where whales are most commonly seen, and have had no accidents this year. Specialists have welcomed this as an "effective means of accident prevention".
After increasing reports from crew members of whale sightings from March 2005, the company started to gather sighting location data from later that year in May, and by May 2007 had recorded 211 sightings.
According to the data, whales are found mainly off the coast of Tsushima in January to March, and gradually move north from April. Between May and June most sightings were made between the Korean peninsula and Tsushima. In July and August, there were fewer sightings across the entire sea region, then from September sightings start to occur once again off the Tsushima coast.
Last year in February and March, the Beetle had had four collisions with marine life thought to be whales, and reduced it's boat speed from the usual 42 knots (78 kmph) to 36 knots (approximately 67 kmph). The ferry crossing, which originally took 2 hours and 55 minutes saw arrivals run late by approximately 20 minutes due to the speed reductions.
Having collected data and gained an understanding of the seasons and sea regions where whales are frequently encountered, the ferry has from this year limited it's speed reductions to certain segments of the journey. From April the speed limitation has been further limited to coastal seas of the Korean peninsula, and the delayed arrival times have been reduced to less than 10 minutes. There were 37 whale sightings through May this year, but no cases of collisions.
The head of the operation department, Takio Yamamoto says "Human eyes are our final resort. We hope to keep on our toes and maintain a perfect record".
Labels: ship strikes
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