, Volume 34, Issue 1, pp 41-48
Date: 09 Jul 2010

Marine mammal and seabird summer distribution and abundance in the fjords of northeast Cumberland Sound of Baffin Island, Nunavut, Canada

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Abstract

Critical baseline population knowledge is required to properly assess the status of marine mammal and bird populations in the Canadian Arctic and the effects of climate trends on them. To address this need for one significant Arctic region, a boat-based marine mammal and seabird transect survey was conducted in Cumberland Sound fjords during summer 2008. During 173 km effort (20 h), 959 birds were recorded representing at least nine species which were dominated by Common Eiders (Somateria mollissima borealis), Iceland or Glaucous Gulls (Larus glaucoides or Larus hyperboreus), and Black Guillemots (Cepphus grylle), in addition to less common birds including Red-throated and Common Loons (Gavia stellata and Gavia immer), Northern Fulmars (Fulmarus glacialis), and Great or Lesser Black-backed Gulls (Larus marinus or Larus fuscus). Of these, 480 birds were observed on the water in one event consisting of eiders and gulls which may have biased encounter rates. Of 101 marine mammal sightings, four species were represented: 73 harp seals (Pagophilus groenlandicus), 13 beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas), nine bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus), five ringed seals (Pusa hispida), and one unidentified pinniped. A pod of four killer whales (Orcinus orca) was observed off-effort in Pangnirtung Fjord during the survey period. This pilot study provided the first estimates of relative abundance for marine mammals and seabirds in the study area to aid in developing future surveys.