[MARMAM] New paper on North Atlantic Right whales in Massachusetts

Aaron N. Rice arice at cornell.edu
Sat Jul 21 12:33:55 PDT 2012

Dear Colleagues-

We wanted to draw your attention to our recently published manuscript on 
the seasonal presence of right whales in Massachusetts Bay:

Morano, J. L., A. N. Rice, J. T. Tielens, B. J. Estabrook, A. Murray, B. 
Roberts, and C. W. Clark. 2012. Acoustically detected year-round 
presence of right whales in an urbanized migration corridor. 
Conservation Biology 26:698-707.

Species' conservation relies on understanding their seasonal habitats 
and migration routes. North Atlantic right whales (/Eubalaena 
glacialis/), listed as endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, 
migrate from the southeastern U.S. coast to Cape Cod Bay, Massachusetts, 
a federally designated critical habitat, from February through May to 
feed. The whales then continue north across the Gulf of Maine to 
northern waters (e.g., Bay of Fundy). To enter Cape Cod Bay, right 
whales must traverse an area of dense shipping and fishing activity in 
Massachusetts Bay, where there are no mandatory regulations for the 
protection of right whales or management of their habitat. We used 
passive acoustic recordings of right whales collected in Massachusetts 
Bay from May 2007 through October 2010 to determine the annual spatial 
and temporal distribution of the whales and their calling activity. We 
detected right whales in the bay throughout the year, in contrast to 
results from visual surveys. Right whales were detected on at least 24% 
of days in each month, with the exception of June 2007, in which there 
were no detections. Averaged over all years, right whale calls were most 
abundant from February through May. During this period, calls were most 
frequent between 17:00 and 20:00 local time; no diel pattern was 
apparent in other months. The spatial distribution of the approximate 
locations of calling whales suggests they may use Massachusetts Bay as a 
conduit to Cape Cod Bay in the spring and as they move between the Gulf 
of Maine and waters to the south in September through December. Although 
it is unclear how dependent right whales are on the bay, the discovery 
of their widespread presence in Massachusetts Bay throughout the year 
suggests this region may need to be managed to reduce the probability of 
collisions with ships and entanglement in fishing gear.

Aaron N. Rice, Ph.D.
Science Director
Bioacoustics Research Program
Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology
Cornell University
159 Sapsucker Woods Rd.
Ithaca, NY 14850-1999

Tel: 607.254.2178
Fax: 607.254.2460

Email: arice at cornell.edu
Web: http://www.nbb.cornell.edu/neurobio/aaronrice

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