Marine mammal visual and acoustic surveys near the Alaskan Colville River Delta
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Information about the occurrence of marine mammals near the Colville River Delta (CRD), Beaufort Sea, Alaska is limited for most species expected to occur in this region. As part of marine mammal monitoring and mitigation for a seismic acquisition program August 25–September 30, 2014, we recorded marine mammal occurrence in a ~ 30 km2 survey area between the Spy Islands and Oliktok Point near Simpson Lagoon using a combination of visual and acoustic monitoring methods. Visual effort totaled 632 h, occurring 18–20 h/day during all daylight hours by observers aboard three small survey vessels. In addition, an Iñupiat observer and seal hunter from the village of Nuiqsut conducted a small-vessel survey to investigate locations of Phoca largha haul-out sites. A total of 102 individual marine mammals were recorded from five species: P. largha, Pusa hispida, Ursus maritimus, Erignathus barbatus, and Delphinapterus leucas. Over 400 h of acoustic data were recorded using second-generation Ecological Acoustic Recorders deployed on the seafloor at three locations. Calls were identified for D. leucas, Balaena mysticetus, E. barbatus, and P. hispida. Results provide valuable information on marine mammal occurrence for the Beaufort Sea CRD during summer/fall, an area proposed for potential offshore oil and gas development.
KeywordsBeaufort Sea Passive acoustic monitoring Phoca largha Delphinapterus leucas Balaena mysticetus
We thank Rick Trupp and Suzan Simonds (SAExploration), Greg Campbell, Holly Dramis, Julie Hopkins, Carey Thissen, Mark Tanski, and Felix Smith (Smultea Environmental Sciences), Jonah Leavitt and Sammy Kunaknana (seal haul-out team), Robin Walker, Shannon Coates, and Cory Hom-Weaver (BioWaves), Eden Zang, Marian Howe, and Lisa Munger (OSI), Josh Jones (Scripps Institute of Oceanography), Ellen Garland (National Marine Mammal Laboratory), Julien Delarue and Xavier Muoy (Jasco Applied Sciences), and Jennifer Miksis-Olds (Applied Research Laboratory at the Pennsylvania State University).
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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