Summary:

META (Marine mammal and Ecosystem: anthropogenic Threat Assessment) is a two year project funded by the Portuguese Republic through Fundo Azul, coordinated by the Madeira Whale Museum (MWM), and with partners in Azores from the Institute of Marine Research (IMAR), Lisbon from Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência(IGC) and Sagres from Mar Ilimitado.

The objective of META is to study how human threats affect populations of resident cetaceans, so that proper management measures can be applied. Specific objectives will characterize and define the distribution of those human threats such as marine traffic, ambient noise and marine litter. Further, we need to estimate which are the potential changes induced by those threats within the studied resident cetacean population, first we are going to study behavioural changes in their general distribution and individual movement and second physiological changes using three parameters: genetic health, contaminants and stress hormones. All those changes can potentially impact their vital rates such as survival and reproductive rates. Finally, we want to evaluate the socio-economic impact and carrying capacity of whale watching activity (WW), trying to apply a proper WW management.

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