[MARMAM] New Paper: Cetaceans in the Gulf of Alaska

Brenda Rone - NOAA Federal brenda.rone at noaa.gov
Wed Dec 28 14:44:59 PST 2016

Dear MARMAM readers,

We are pleased to announce the following publication in Marine Biology:

Rone BK, Zerbini AN, Douglas AB, Weller DW, Clapham PJ. 2017. Abundance and
distribution of cetaceans in the Gulf of Alaska. Marine Biology, 164(1),
1-23. DOI: 10.1007/s00227-016-3052-2


To effectively protect and manage marine mammals, contemporary information
on their abundance and distribution is essential. Several factors influence
present-day insight including the accessibility of the study area and the
degree of difficulty in locating and studying target species. The offshore
waters of the Gulf of Alaska are important habitat to a variety of
cetaceans yet have remained largely unsurveyed due to its remote location,
vast geographic area, and challenging environmental conditions. Between
2009 and 2015, three vessel surveys were conducted using line-transect
sampling methods to estimate cetacean abundance and density. Here, we
present results on the distribution for all species encountered and density
and abundance for six species, including humpback whales (*Megaptera
novaeangliae*), fin whales (*Balaenoptera physalus*), sperm whales (*Physeter
macrocephalus*), blue whales (*B. musculus*), killer whales (*Orcinus orca*),
and Dall’s porpoise (*Phocoenoides dalli*). Fin whales, humpback whales,
and Dall’s porpoise were the most abundant species. Beaked whales were
documented only in 2015. Prior to this study, recent sightings of blue
whales were rare, likely related to the lack of offshore survey coverage.
No North Pacific right whales (*Eubalaena japonica*) were sighted,
underscoring the critically endangered status of this species in a formerly
populous habitat. Although these results provide the first estimates from
offshore waters, additional effort is necessary to assess trends and to
obtain baseline data for the rare and cryptic species in order to better
inform conservation and management actions.

For those that do not have access to the journal, reprints are available
from Brenda.Rone at noaa.gov.

Happy Holidays!

Brenda K. Rone
Cetacean Research Biologist

Marine Mammal Laboratory
NOAA/Alaska Fisheries Science Center
7600 Sand Point Way NE
Seattle, WA 98115
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