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The dangers to ships from animal vessel strikes

Ships of all shapes and sizes have the potential to encounter marine life. Everything from small fish to whales collide with moving watercraft.

These collisions can have a devastating impact on both animals and people onboard. People have been thrown overboard, injured or even killed by these collisions. But what can ships do to avoid these encounters?

Understanding marine animal collisions

One reason vessel strikes occur is animals’ natural habitats coexist with busy boatways. In New York, fishing boats and humpback whales compete for the same fishing space. This leads to collisions and accidents that put both at risk.

Mammals that have to surface to breath are especially vulnerable to collisions. They can be difficult to see in the choppy ocean waters. Even when a captain or boat operator sees an animal surface, he or she may not have enough time to steer away.

Preventing sea-life collisions

Boats can take a couple of measures to lower the risk of these collisions. One of the main things all watercraft should do is have a spotter. Someone who looks for the telltale signs of breaching whales or possible marine life. These spotters can lower the chances of a surprise animal encounter.

Ships can also reduce the chance of impact by keeping at least a 100-yard buffer from any spotted animals. Wildlife can be unpredictable, and keeping your distance can reduce the risk for you and them.

Maintaining a reasonable speed can also lower your risk of a collision. If an area is known to have wildlife activity, keep your speed manageable. A slower speed allows you more time to react. It could be the difference between an accident and just an animal sighting.

The effects of vessel strikes

Colliding with an animal can have a devastating impact on all kinds of sea vessels. Passengers on a small boat can suffer severe injuries, and even get thrown overboard. Crews or passengers on bigger ships are also at risk in wildlife collisions. Loose cargo or equipment can slam into people, causing major injuries. The ship can also experience expensive damages to the hull or propeller.

Avoiding vessel strikes takes attention to details and familiarity with your surroundings while at sea. Reducing these risks makes for healthier oceans for boaters and animals. If you’ve been injured during an animal collision, a maritime attorney can help you.

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