Polar Biology

, Volume 36, Issue 4, pp 493–509 | Cite as

Monitoring white whales (Delphinapterus leucas) with echolocation loggers

  • Manuel Castellote
  • Ruth H. Leeney
  • Gregory O’Corry-Crowe
  • Rauno Lauhakangas
  • Kit M. Kovacs
  • William Lucey
  • Vera Krasnova
  • Christian Lydersen
  • Kathleen M. Stafford
  • Roman Belikov
Original Paper

Abstract

Monitoring programmes for white whales (Delphinapterus leucas) have been called for repeatedly in recent years because this species is likely to be negatively impacted by climate change, but also because such a broadly dispersed, high trophic feeder can serve as an effective ecosystem sentinel. Arctic ecosystems are difficult to monitor because of the extensive winter ice coverage and extreme environmental conditions in addition to low human population densities. However, passive acoustic monitoring has proved to be a reliable method to remotely survey the presence of some marine mammals in the Arctic. In this study, we evaluate the potential use of echolocation loggers (T-POD and C-POD, Chelonia Ltd.) for remote monitoring of white whales. Captive experiments and open water surveys in three arctic/subarctic habitats (ice-noise-dominated environment, ice-free environment and low-turbidity waters) were used to document detection performance and to explore the use of logger angle and inter-click interval data to look at activity patterns and tidal influences on space use. When acoustic results were compared to concurrent visual observations, echolocation detection was only attributed to periods of white whale presence near the recorder deployment sites. Both T-PODs and C-PODs effectively detected echolocation, even under noisy ice. Diel and tidal behavioural patterns were identified. Acoustically identified movement patterns between sites were visually confirmed. This study demonstrates the feasibility of monitoring white whales using echolocation loggers and describes some important features of their behaviour as examples of the potential application of this passive acoustic monitoring method in Arctic and subarctic regions.

Keywords

Beluga whales Delphinapterus leucas Echolocation loggers Passive acoustic monitoring T-POD C-POD 

Supplementary material

300_2012_1276_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (253 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 253kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Manuel Castellote
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ruth H. Leeney
    • 3
    • 4
  • Gregory O’Corry-Crowe
    • 5
  • Rauno Lauhakangas
    • 6
  • Kit M. Kovacs
    • 7
  • William Lucey
    • 8
  • Vera Krasnova
    • 9
  • Christian Lydersen
    • 7
  • Kathleen M. Stafford
    • 10
  • Roman Belikov
    • 9
  1. 1.Parques Reunidos Valencia S. A. L’Oceanogràfic, Ciudad de las Artes y las CienciasValenciaSpain
  2. 2.National Marine Mammal Laboratory, Alaska Fisheries Science CenterNational Marine Fisheries Service, NOAASeattleUSA
  3. 3.Centre for Ecology and EvolutionUniversity of ExeterCornwallUK
  4. 4.Benguela Research and TrainingWalvis BayNamibia
  5. 5.Harbor Branch Oceanographic InstituteFlorida Atlantic UniversityBoca RatonUSA
  6. 6.Helsinki Institute of PhysicsUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  7. 7.Norwegian Polar InstituteFram CentreTromsøNorway
  8. 8.City and Borough of YakutatYakutatUSA
  9. 9.P. P. Shirshov Institute of OceanologyRussian Academy of SciencesMoscowRussia
  10. 10.Applied Physics LaboratoryUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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