Research suggests humans still have much to learn about whales. (Roman et al, 2014).

Future Research Considerations

Research suggests humans still have much to learn about whales (Roman et al, 2014). Given the ecological importance of whales to the oceans, other species and organisms, mitigation of climate change and the survival of humanity, I have identified many areas where further knowledge is required to gain a further understanding of these giants that dive deep into our oceans to forage, reproduce, communicate, sing, sequester carbon, assist other species and help humanity which has a very long way to go to help whales repopulate to prehistoric numbers to freely stabilize ecological systems, protect, preserve and encourage clean oceans, land, and air. Humans need to continue to investigate ways they can coexist with whales while learning more about whales and other species and organisms so we can provide a positive support system in the circle of life on this planet.
near Gabarus, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada (credit: Maria Lisa Polegatto)

Suggested future research included, but is not limited to, the following:

1. Acoustic Pollution

Further research into the effect of acoustic pollution in connection with whales is key in relation to conservation issues (Schnitzler et al, 2017).

2. Aerial surveillance

Aerial surveillance of the oceans has posed a useful tool in locating whales (Vacquié-Garcia et al, 2017).

3. AIS Data

Research into how AIS messages used in connection with other sources of data could extend spatial and temporal perspectives for greater impact (Svanberg et al, 2019).

4. Climate Change

Future studies to determine strategies affecting climate change denial amongst “high-dominance and low-empathy individuals” (Jylha & Akrami, 2015).

5. Data Variable Analysis

Further research using data variables in marine environments may assist in understanding the behavior of whales (The second largest whale in the world slows the build-up of CO2 in the sea, 2019).

6. Drones

Future research is suggested by Ocean Alliance for whale data gathering using Intel drones, for example, the Falcom 8+ which is a “commercial drone designed for robust environments precision flight” (Murison & Murison, 2017).

Link: https://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/products/drones/falcon-8.html (Intel® Falcon™ 8 System, n.d.)

7. Education

Educating people on the negative effects and harm plastic pollution creates on the environment and human health is necessary (Van Truong et al, 2019).

8. Filtration Mechanisms


Further research into baleen whale filtration mechanisms is suggested to result in numerous applications as well as conservation and population management (Werth et al, 2016).

9.Fishing Gear

(Credit: Goodman et al, 2019)

9. Fishing Gear – “Abandoned, lost and discarded (ALD)”. There are several reasons to include fishermen and fisherwomen in future solutions for ALD fishing gear as they:

  • have “valuable experience and knowledge” in both the “handling and retrieval” of such gear
  • can assist to identify and implement solutions
  • could assist current “management agencies” in the “ management decisions and strategies” for the reduction of such gear (Goodman et al, 2019).

While ALD fishing gear is regulated by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), retrieved gear could also be recorded for accurate records (Goodman et al, 2019).

It is further suggested for management and mitigation that:

  • retrieval of ALD fishing gear at-sea by fishers be legalized
  • waste management systems be established for old gear
  • collaboratory methods be used for the identification and prioritization of hotspots with “scientists and other stakeholder groups” for the collection of data and providing of local knowledge for the estimation and mitigation of ALD gear to strengthen trust and create sustainable management (Goodman et al, 2019).

"Fishermen want to help” (BBC News, 2020). They “are devastated when an entanglement happens" (BBC News, 2020).

10. Fishing Knowledge

Knowledge from fishermen who have long term experience, observations and interactions in the marine environments can help clarify trends and elements for research topics where data is scarce, such as whale predation in Alaska (Peterson & Carothers, 2013).

11. Foraging Grounds and Food Supply

Further research into the location of food supply that is moving with ocean temperatures increasing, thus move whale foraging grounds (Carpenter, 2018).

12. Future Species Interactions

Research into future species interactions will need further considerations to determine ecological thresholds or mechanisms for resilience (Hughes et al, 2018).

13. Gear Marking

Further research and development is required and ongoing for cost effective technology for relocating fishing gear (He & Suuronen, 2018).

14. Global Regulation and Remediation

Future regulation and remediation of toxic marine pollutants is suggested for urgent prioritization by the United Nations Environment Programme, Stockholm Convention, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (Sonne et al, 2018).

15. Gular (Throat) Tissue

Additional research of the microstructure of gular tissues will greatly improve understanding of the sensory and mechanical physiology of the throat during feeding in baleen whales, thus, in turn, aiding in evolutionary reconstruction of feeding behaviors of this species as a whole (Berta et al, 2015).

16. Indigenous knowledge

Working with Indigenous knowledge to assist in guidance of monitoring and enhancement of understanding of changes to beluga species and environmental change (Loseto et al, 2018).

17. Past Populations

Through new field observations and an increased knowledge of past population dynamics, we may be able to discover further benefits of whales (Roman et al, 2014).

18. Pollution Threat Assessment

With most species of cetaceans at a high risk of becoming extinct, there is an urgent need for an assessment relating to the threats of pollution (Zhu et al, 2019).

19. Risk Assessment for Microplastic Effects

With cetaceans being an indicator for the health of the ocean and humans, further research in the form of a risk assessment on the effects of microplastics in relation to cetaceans is required globally (Zhu et al, 2019).

20. Sustainable Solutions

Research is needed for suitable sustainable solutions and understanding for the creation of “multiple, coupled ecosystem services” (Boumans et al, 2015).

21. Whale Behavior

An increased understanding of whale behavior in relation to approaching ships along with the integration of new observation and detection processes to reduce whale strikes is key to whales and ships coexisting in the ocean (Williams et al, 2016).

22. Whales and Interconnected Species

Credit: Hays et al, 2019

Tracking data for species, including, marine mammals, seabirds, fish and sea turtles can help provide information necessary for design, implementation and management for conservation (Hays et al, 2019).

Dominion Beach, Nova Scotia, Canada (credit: Maria Lisa Polegatto)

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Created By
Maria Lisa Polegatto


Created with images by Richard Sagredo - "untitled image" • Richard Sagredo - "untitled image" • Michael Afonso - "untitled image" • Andrew Palmer - "Dubai Police helicopter flying over Jumeira Beach, sunset" • Nestor Pool - "untitled image" • Rinson Chory - "View from the bridge of one of my previous vessels. Somewhere in the middle of the ocean." • Alexandr Popadin - "Istanbul" • Chris Gallagher - "Bingley Floods 2015 Boxing Day - Brown Cow Bingley " • Campaign Creators - "untitled image" • Geran de Klerk - "Running between the islands of Dyrön and Åstol, Sweden. Summer in this part of the world means boats galore." • Brian Yurasits - "A single use plastic bag seen floating through the water. These are the consequences of our convenient lifestyles, and separation from nature. Spend some time outdoors and you'll see the plastic problem everywhere. YOU can help by using less plastic at home, and supporting local, sustainable businesses. Follow on Instagram @wildlife_by_yuri" • Krisjanis Mezulis - "Vietnam ha long bay" • NOAA - "Pilot whale " • Erik Hathaway - "Gulf of Maine - Humpback - July 2019" • Kristian Strand - "Calm in the harbor" • Jules D. - "Smoke trails" • Steve Halama - "untitled image" • Tengy Art - "A white whale (Delphinapterus leucas) held by people in a seaside prison. There are a lot of scars from the cage on the white whale face." • MJ Tangonan - "Natural History Museum" • Dustan Woodhouse - "Take a walk a few KM’s from your next resort, here is what the beaches of the world really look like these days." • Yassine Khalfalli - "untitled image" • Maria Ilves - "untitled image" • James Lee - "Whale Watch"