[MARMAM] New paper assessing the probability of exposure of blue and humpback whales to simulated seismic surveys

Luis Huckstadt lahuckst at ucsc.edu
Thu Aug 20 13:50:26 PDT 2020

Dear colleagues,

We are pleased to announce the publication of our article on Endangered
Species Research, entitled "*A dynamic approach to estimate the probability
of exposure of marine predators to oil exploration seismic surveys over
continental shelf waters*".

Abstract: The ever-increasing human demand for fossil fuels has resulted in
the expansion of oil exploration efforts to waters over the continental
shelf. These waters are largely utilized by a complex biological community.
Large baleen whales, in particular, utilize continental shelf waters as
breeding and calving grounds, foraging grounds, and also as migration
corridors. We developed a dynamic approach to estimate the likelihood that
individuals from different populations of blue whales *Balaenoptera
musculus* and humpback whales *Megaptera novaeangliae* could be exposed to
idealized, simulated seismic surveys as they move over the continental
shelf. Animal tracking data for the different populations were filtered,
and behaviors (transit and foraging) were inferred from the tracks using
hidden Markov models. We simulated a range of conditions of exposure by
having the source of noise affecting a circular area of different radii (5,
25, 50 and 100 km), moving along a gridded transect of 270 and 2500 km2 at
a constant speed of 9 km h-1, and starting the simulated surveys every week
of the year. Our approach allowed us to identify the temporal variability
in the susceptibility of the different populations under study, as we ran
the simulations for an entire year, allowing us to identify periods when
the surveys would have an intensified effect on whales. Our results
highlight the importance of understanding the behavior and ecology of
individuals in a site-specific context when considering the likelihood of
exposure to anthropogenic disturbances, as the habitat utilization patterns
of each population are highly variable.

If you are interested, the article is available on the following link (or
you can email me):

On behalf of the co-authors,
Luis A. Huckstadt, Ph.D.
Assistant Researcher
Institute of Marine Sciences
University of California Santa Cruz

Adjunct Professor
Department of Biology and Marine Biology
University of North Carolina Wilmington

Ph: (831) 239-5762
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