Indicator: CO-50 Number of collisions with marine animals


Data on shipping collisions with marine animals are not available in any comprehensive form. There is no requirement for shipping logs to report such collisions and, in the case of large ships and small animals, the ship’s crew may not even know a collision has occurred.

However, some relevant data can be obtained from the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service: Marine Stranding and Mortality Database.

Marine animals recorded in “Marine Wildlife Strandings and Mortality Database” as having injuries consistent with boat strike
Year Marine turtles Cetaceans and Pinnipeds Dugongs Total
1996 n/k n/k 3 n/k
1997 n/k n/k 4 n/k
1998 n/k 1 2 n/k
1999 84 2 0 86
2000 78 0 2 80
2001 83 0 4 87
2002 65 0 7 72

Source: Limpus, C. J.; Currie, K. J. & Haines, J. A. 2002, Marine wildlife stranding and mortality database annual report 2002: II. Cetacean and pinniped, Qld Environmental Protection Agency, viewed 8 Jun 2006,

What the data mean

It appears, primarily from the evidence of bone fractures, that a significant proportion of animals, especially turtles, stranded on the Queensland coast, are the victims of boat strike. Numbers by years are still too variable to suggest any overall trends.

Data Limitations

The Marine Stranding and Mortality Database only provides a ‘tip of the iceberg’ indication of the impact of shipping collisions on marine animals.

  • Only animals that are stranded on the Queensland coast are recorded - other States do not keep such a database.
  • Animals that recover and survive, or are injured too far from the coast to be washed up, or are eaten rather than stranded, are not recorded.
  • Animals suffering bone fractures from other causes besides collisions with shipping, including natural causes, may be included.

Issues for which this is an indicator and why

Coasts and Oceans — Direct pressure of human activities on coasts and oceans - Direct pressure of shipping 

As well as placing pressure on marine life through pollution, debris and introduced species, ships, as large, hard masses moving under power through the habitats of marine animals can exert pressure by colliding with those animals. Given the ever-increasing number of ships traversing the oceans, the potential for collisions with marine animals is continually increasing. Number of recorded instances of collisions would give some idea of the extent of this pressure.

Other indicators for this issue:

Biodiversity — Pressures on biodiversity - Pressures on marine biodiversity: pressures of shipping 

Collisions between shipping and sea animals has the potential to place pressure on biodiversity. Number of recorded instances of collisions would give some idea of the extent of this pressure.

Other indicators for this issue: