Seasonal marine mammal occurrence detected from passive acoustic monitoring in Scott Inlet, Nunavut, Canada
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- Marcoux, M., Ferguson, S.H., Roy, N. et al. Polar Biol (2017) 40: 1127. doi:10.1007/s00300-016-2040-9
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Monitoring Arctic wildlife is important due to the increasing potential impact of environmental and industrial changes. Passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) can be an important tool for wildlife management through observations of several species simultaneously along with abiotic elements such as industrial activity. Here, we use PAM methods to monitor the occurrence of marine mammals over an 8-month period (Oct 2012–May 2013) in Scott Inlet, Nunavut. When marine mammals were present, we investigated possible environmental correlates. Sea ice coverage strongly influenced detections of marine mammal sounds: narwhals and bowhead whales were only present before full ice cover occurred in the fall, while bearded seals and walruses could only be detected after ice formation. Tidal phase, time of the day, water temperature at 300 m depth, and air temperature all influenced detections of narwhal clicks. This PAM study provides a baseline measure for the presence of marine mammals over the fall to spring in Scott Inlet. Long-term PAM in the same location would allow us to document changes in the phenology of marine mammals at this site in relation to environmental changes.