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Provincetown, MA, United States

Leeney R.H.,Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies | Carslake D.,University of Warwick | Elwen S.H.,Namibian Dolphin Project | Elwen S.H.,University of Pretoria
Aquatic Mammals | Year: 2011

Static acoustic monitoring is a cost-effective, low-effort means of gathering large datasets on echolocation click characteristics and habitat use by odontocetes. Heaviside's dolphins (Cephalorhynchus heavisidii) were monitored using an acoustic monitoring unit, the T-POD, in July 2008 at a site of known high abundance for this species in Walvis Bay, Namibia. The T-POD successfully detected clicks from Heaviside's dolphins, and these clicks were detected in the 120 to 140 kHz frequency range. A distinct diel pattern to the hourly mean inter-click interval was observed, with higher values during daylight hours than at night, suggesting that click trains are produced at faster rates at night time. There was no apparent diel pattern in the proportion of buzz trains produced, however. A diel pattern in click activity was observed, with many more detection-positive minutes per hour recorded between dusk and dawn, and vocalization activity dropping to low levels in the middle of the day. This corresponded with visual observations made on abundance of dolphins in the study area. These results suggest that Heaviside's dolphins use this site primarily during the night. Static acoustic monitoring proved to be an effective technique for monitoring patterns of habitat use by Heaviside's dolphins.

Williams R.,University of British Columbia | Gero S.,Dalhousie University | Bejder L.,Murdoch University | Calambokidis J.,Cascadia Research Collective | And 4 more authors.
Conservation Letters | Year: 2011

Evaluating impacts of human activities on marine ecosystems is difficult when effects occur out of plain sight. Oil spill severity is often measured by the number of marine birds and mammals killed, but only a small fraction of carcasses are recovered. The Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was the largest in the U.S. history, but some reports implied modest environmental impacts, in part because of a relatively low number (101) of observed marine mammal mortalities. We estimate historical carcass-detection rates for 14 cetacean species in the northern Gulf of Mexico that have estimates of abundance, survival rates, and stranding records. This preliminary analysis suggests that carcasses are recovered, on an average, from only 2% (range: 0-6.2%) of cetacean deaths. Thus, the true death toll could be 50 times the number of carcasses recovered, given no additional information. We discuss caveats to this estimate, but present it as a counterpoint to illustrate the magnitude of misrepresentation implicit in presenting observed carcass counts without similar qualification. We urge methodological development to develop appropriate multipliers. Analytical methods are required to account explicitly for low probability of carcass recovery from cryptic mortality events (e.g., oil spills, ship strikes, bycatch in unmonitored fisheries and acoustic trauma). © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Parrish C.E.,National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | Parrish C.E.,University of New Hampshire | Rogers J.N.,Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies | Rogers J.N.,University of New Hampshire | Calder B.R.,University of New Hampshire
IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Letters | Year: 2014

There is currently great interest in lidar surveys of salt marshes to support coastal management and decision making. However, vertical uncertainty of lidar elevations is generally higher in salt marshes than in upland areas, and it can be difficult to empirically quantify due to the challenges of obtaining ground control in marshes. Assuming that most of the component uncertainties in the lidar geolocation equation will remain essentially constant over a relatively small location, it is posited that vertical uncertainty in a marsh will vary mostly as a function of surface and cover characteristics. These, in turn, should affect lidar wave-forms recorded during the survey, and therefore, analysis of the waveform shapes may allow for prediction of vertical uncertainty variation. Waveforms at three test sites were used to compute 16 computationally efficient features that describe the shapes; and simple, multilinear, and principal component regressions were used to evaluate their ability to predict elevation differences between lidar and Global Positioning System ground control. The results show that a simple estimate of waveform width can explain over 50% of the total variability in elevation differences but that multilinear regression does not significantly improve the performance. Somewhat surprisingly, skewness of the waveform does not appear to be a good predictor of elevation differences in these cases. © 2013 IEEE.

Clark C.W.,Cornell University | Brown M.W.,Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies | Corkeron P.,Cornell University
Marine Mammal Science | Year: 2010

Abstract: North Atlantic right whales, Eubalaena glacialis, remain endangered, primarily due to excessive anthropogenic mortality. Current management protocols in US waters are triggered by identifying the presence of at least one right whale in a management area. We assessed whether acoustic detection of right whale contact calls can work as an alternative to visual aerial surveys for establishing their presence. Aerial survey and acoustic monitoring were conducted in Cape Cod Bay, Massachusetts, in 2001-2005 and used to evaluate and compare right whale detections. Over the 58 d with simultaneous aerial and acoustic coverage, aerial surveys saw whales on approximately two-thirds of the days during which acoustic monitoring heard whales. There was no strong relationship between numbers of whales seen during aerial surveys and numbers of contact calls detected on survey days. Results indicate acoustic monitoring is a more reliable mechanism than aerial survey for detecting right whales. Because simple detection is sufficient to trigger current management protocols, continuous, autonomous acoustic monitoring provides information of immediate management utility more reliably than aerial surveillance. Aerial surveys are still required to provide data for estimating population parameters and for visually assessing the frequency and severity of injuries from shipping and fishing and detecting injured and entangled right whales. © 2010 by the Society for Marine Mammalogy.

Stevick P.T.,College of the Atlantic | Neves M.C.,Instituto Baleia Jubarte | Johansen F.,Granholt | Engel M.H.,Instituto Baleia Jubarte | And 4 more authors.
Biology Letters | Year: 2011

Fidelity of individual animals to breeding sites is a primary determinant of population structure. The degree and scale of philopatry in a population reflect the fitness effects of social facilitation, ecological adaptation and optimal inbreeding. Patterns of breeding-site movement and fidelity are functions of social structure and are frequently sex biased. We report on a female humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) first identified by natural markings off Brazil that subsequently was photographed off Madagascar. The minimum travel distance between these locations is greater than 9800 km, approximately 4000 km longer than any previously reported movement between breeding grounds, more than twice the species' typical seasonal migratory distance and the longest documented movement by a mammal. It is unexpected to find this exceptional long-distance movement between breeding groups by a female, as models of philopatry suggest that male mammals move more frequently or over longer distances in search of mating opportunities. While such movement may be advantageous, especially in changeable or unpredictable circumstances, it is not possible to unambiguously ascribe causality to this rare observation. This finding illustrates the behavioural flexibility in movement patterns that may be demonstrated within a typically philopatric species. © 2011 The Royal Society.

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