Historical Data on Australian Whale Vessel Strikes - International Whaling Commission June 2016

Based on existing data of the occurrence of vessel strike in Australia, Australian records represent approximately 7% of all worldwide vessel strikes reported to the International Whaling Commission. However, to date there has not been a dedicated Australian collation of historical data sources. Therefore we conducted a search of historical newspapers and other sources to discover reports of vessel strikes in Australian waters. This updated analysis uncovered a significant number of new and previously unreported records which means that Australia’s contribution of worldwide reported vessel strike has now increased to approximately 17%. It is very important to note from the outset that this does not necessarily reflect the actual proportion of global vessel strikes that have occurred in Australia, as national and international vessel strike data have inherent reporting biases and unknown coverage. However, the additional data collected in this study does challenge the notion that historically Australia has had low numbers of vessel strikes relative to the rest of the world. This data is yet to be cross-checked and validated but we present a preliminary summary and exploration of the data. One interesting finding was a distinct absence of large vessels in modern data but after examination we believe this is most likely a reflection of under-reporting due to large modern vessels possibly not detecting collisions.