[MARMAM] New Tech Memo: Summary of systematic bowhead surveys conducted in the U.S. Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, 1975-2009

Cathy Bacon cathyebacon at gmail.com
Tue Jul 10 19:57:53 PDT 2012

Dear Colleagues,

We are proud to announce that the following NOAA Technical Memorandum was

 SMULTEA, M., D. FERTL, D. J. RUGH, and C. E. BACON.  2012. Summary of
systematic bowhead surveys conducted in the U.S. Beaufort and Chukchi Seas,

U.S. Dep. Commer., NOAA Tech. Memo. NMFS-AFSC-237, 48 p.  Online. (.pdf,
851 KB).


Nearly 200 systematic studies involving bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus)
were conducted in the United States (U.S.) Beaufort and Chukchi seas from
1975 to 2009. Most (67 %) of these studies were associated with monitoring
and mitigation relative to offshore oil and gas exploration and
development. A compilation of this information has been needed to determine
anthropogenic impacts to the species throughout its range in Arctic and
subarctic waters, including facts for required environmental impact
assessment determinations. As a part of the Bowhead Whale Feeding Ecology
Study (BOWFEST) conducted by the Alaska Fisheries Science Center’s,
National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Marine Mammal Laboratory
(NMML) for the Minerals Management Service (MMS) (now called Bureau of
Ocean Energy Management [BOEM]1), a comprehensive review and compilation
was undertaken of all prominent scientific surveys that systematically
recorded bowhead whales in the U.S. Beaufort and Chukchi seas from 1975 to
2008 (and some from early 2009). Given the cumulative number of such
studies and the predicted continued growth of industrial activities in this
region, our goals were to provide: (1) a summary for historical
comparisons; (2) a format to integrate and track the studies; and (3) a
publicly available starting point to identify data of relevance to ongoing
work. To address these goals, we compiled a list synthesizing past and
ongoing systematic sighting/acoustic detection studies on bowheads. This
compilation included data derived from aerial surveys for whale
distribution, aerial photography, ice- and shore-based census efforts,
vesselbased and tagging efforts, and monitoring associated with offshore
oil and gas exploration, development, and operations. This information is
directly relevant to fulfilling the goals of current interdisciplinary
efforts to study bowhead ecology (e.g., BOEM-funded studies such as
BOWFEST, Bowhead Whale Aerial Survey Project (BWASP), and Chukchi Offshore
Monitoring in Drilling Area [COMIDA]) relative to ongoing, proposed, and
anticipated offshore oil and gas activities in BOEM’s Beaufort and Chukchi
Sea planning areas. Our intent is to provide a comprehensive resource to
serve as a foundation for the integration of past and ongoing bowhead
studies relative to industrial activities, mitigation, and management. It
is also meant to assist and improve the flow of scientific information
between interested entities and the public, leading eventually to an
integration of research on bowhead whales.

This is the product of the contribution of a large number of researchers
and we are grateful for their participation in this effort.

This document may be downloaded at:

Kind Regards,
Cathy Bacon

Cathy Bacon
Marine Mammal Research Assistant/Marine Biologist
Smultea Environmental Sciences, LLC (SES)
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