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Victoria, Canada

Filatova O.A.,Moscow State University | Miller P.J.,Andrews University | Yurk H.,JASCO Applied science Ltd. | Samarra F.I.,Iceland Marine Research Institute | And 4 more authors.
The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America | Year: 2015

Killer whale populations may differ in genetics, morphology, ecology, and behavior. In the North Pacific, two sympatric populations ("resident" and "transient") specialize on different prey (fish and marine mammals) and retain reproductive isolation. In the eastern North Atlantic, whales from the same populations have been observed feeding on both fish and marine mammals. Fish-eating North Pacific "residents" are more genetically related to eastern North Atlantic killer whales than to sympatric mammal-eating "transients." In this paper, a comparison of frequency variables in killer whale calls recorded from four North Pacific resident, two North Pacific transient, and two eastern North Atlantic populations is reported to assess which factors drive the large-scale changes in call structure. Both low-frequency and high-frequency components of North Pacific transient killer whale calls have significantly lower frequencies than those of the North Pacific resident and North Atlantic populations. The difference in frequencies could be related to ecological specialization or to the phylogenetic history of these populations. North Pacific transient killer whales may have genetically inherited predisposition toward lower frequencies that may shape their learned repertoires.

Day R.H.,ABR Inc. Environmental Research and Services | Weingartner T.J.,University of Alaska Fairbanks | Weingartner T.J.,National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | Hopcroft R.R.,University of Alaska Fairbanks | And 11 more authors.
Continental Shelf Research | Year: 2013

We conducted an interdisciplinary ecological study in and near 3 nearby proposed exploratory oil and gas prospects in the offshore northeastern Chukchi Sea during the open-water seasons of 2008-2010. This region exhibits a classical pelagic-benthic dichotomy of food-web structure in ecological function. The Klondike study area borders the eastern edge of the Central Channel and functions as a pelagic-dominated ecosystem, whereas the Burger study area lies south of Hanna Shoal and functions as a benthic-dominated ecosystem. The Statoil study area, which is located north of Klondike and northwest of Burger, has both pelagic and benthic attributes, although it is more like Burger than like Klondike. Klondike has lower benthic density and biomass, a higher biomass of oceanic zooplankton, and more fishes and planktivorous seabirds than does Burger, which has benthic communities with high density and biomass, primarily neritic zooplankton, and higher densities of benthic-feeding marine mammals than Klondike; Statoil has characteristics of both ecosystems. Patterns of sea-ice retreat vary interannually; in some years, much of the northeastern Chukchi is ice-free by mid-May, leading to pelagic and ice-edge phytoplankton blooms, whereas heavy ice cover in other years leads to substantial within-ice production. The characteristics of this region during the open-water season are not consistent among years, in that Bering Sea Water impinges onto all study areas only in some years, resulting in interannual variation in the distribution and abundance of zooplankton, planktivorous seabirds, and pelagic-feeding seals. These interannual variations alter several aspects of this pelagic-benthic dichotomy, and some aspects of this region suggest unusual structure (e.g., replacement of benthic-feeding fishes in some areas by predatory invertebrates, a lack of benthic-feeding seaducks). © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

Nowacek D.P.,Duke University | Broker K.,Royal Dutch Shell | Donovan G.,International Whaling Commission | Gailey G.,Texas A&M University at Galveston | And 5 more authors.
Aquatic Mammals | Year: 2013

Marine seismic surveys, which use loud, primarily low-frequency sound to penetrate the sea floor, are known to disturb and could harm marine life. The use of these surveys for conventional and alternative offshore energy development as well as research is expanding. Given their proliferation and potential for negative environmental impact, there is a growing need for systematic planning and operational standards to eliminate or at least minimize impacts, especially when surveys occur in sensitive areas. Mitigating immediate impacts is obviously critical, but monitoring for short- as well as long-term effects and impacts is also needed. Regulatory requirements for both mitigation and monitoring vary widely from one country or jurisdiction to another. Historically, most have focused on acute effects but share a common objective of minimizing potential adverse impacts. Specific examples in different areas are given to illustrate general approaches for predicting, minimizing, and measuring impacts for operations in essentially any marine environment. The critical elements of a robust mitigation and monitoring plan for responsibly conducting marine seismic surveys include obtaining baseline ecological data; substantial advance planning, communication, and critical review; integrated acoustic and visual monitoring during operations; and systematic analysis of results to inform future planning and mitigation.

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