What are the impacts of human activity on marine organisms during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Are you wondering what are the impacts of human activity on marine organisms, especially during the global COVID-19 pandemic? And how these impacts are evaluated? A new paper is just published in Biological Conservation. The paper is entitled: " The power of national acoustic tracking networks to assess the impacts of human activity on marine organisms during the COVID-19 pandemic".

Huveneers et al. (2021)


COVID-19 restrictions have led to an unprecedented global hiatus in anthropogenic activities, providing a unique opportunity to assess human impact on biological systems. Here, they describe how a national network of acoustic tracking receivers can be leveraged to assess the effects of human activity on animal movement and space use during such global disruptions.

They develop a roadmap for the analysis of acoustic tracking data across various scales using Australia’s national Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS) Animal Tracking Facility as a case study. They also illustrate the benefit of sustained observing systems and monitoring programs by assessing how a 51-day break in white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) cage-diving tourism due to COVID-19 restrictions affected the behaviour and space use of two resident species.


Long-term monitoring of the local environment reveals that the activity space of yellowtail kingfish (Seriola lalandi) was reduced when cage-diving boats were absent compared to periods following standard tourism operations. However, white shark residency and movements were not affected. This roadmap is globally applicable and will assist researchers in designing studies to assess how anthropogenic activities can impact animal movement and distributions during regional, short-term through to major, unexpected disruptions like the COVID-19 pandemic.


The publication is led by Charlie Huveneers (Flinders University, Adelaide, SA), and our Lab Head Daniel Ierodiaconou contributed to the publication. Congrats to Dan and the DU Marine Mapping Group!

To read the full article, click here.

Last edited on the 15th March 2021.

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