Using passive acoustic monitoring to document the distribution of beaked whale species in the western North Atlantic Ocean

Citation:
Stanistreet, JE, Nowacek DP, Baumann-Pickering S, Bell JT, Cholewiak DM, Hildebrand JA, Hodge LEW, Moors-Murphy HB, Van Parijs SM, Read AJ.  2017.  Using passive acoustic monitoring to document the distribution of beaked whale species in the western North Atlantic Ocean. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences.

Abstract:

Little is known about the ecology of many beaked whale species, despite concerns raised by mass strandings linked to certain sources of anthropogenic noise. Here, we used passive acoustic monitoring to examine spatial and temporal patterns in beaked whale occurrence at six locations along the continental slope in the western North Atlantic Ocean. We analyzed 2642 days of recordings collected between 2011 and 2015, and identified echolocation signals from northern bottlenose whales, Cuvier’s, Sowerby’s, Gervais’, and Blainville’s beaked whales, and one signal type of unknown origin. We recorded multiple species at each site, with detections generally occurring year-round, and observed latitudinal gradients and site-specific variation in relative species occurrence. Notably, we regularly detected Cuvier’s beaked whales in a region where they have not been commonly observed, and discovered potential habitat partitioning among Cuvier’s and Gervais’ beaked whales within their overlapping ranges. This information on the distribution and seasonal occurrence of northwest Atlantic beaked whale species offers new insight into patterns of habitat use and provides a year-round baseline from which to assess potential anthropogenic impacts.

DOI:

10.1139/cjfas-2016-0503