[MARMAM] New paper on narwhal abundance in the eastern Canadian High Arctic

Doniol-Valcroze, Thomas Thomas.Doniol-Valcroze at dfo-mpo.gc.ca
Mon Dec 14 16:55:45 PST 2020

We are pleased to announce the publication of a paper on narwhal abundance:

Doniol-Valcroze, T., Gosselin, J-F., Pike, D. G., Lawson, J. W., Asselin, N. C., Hedges, K., & Ferguson, S. (2020). Narwhal abundance in the Eastern Canadian High Arctic in 2013. NAMMCO Scientific Publications, 11.

The paper is available in open access at the following link:

In summer, narwhals (Monodon monoceros) migrate from Baffin Bay to northeastern Canada and northwest Greenland, where they are hunted by Inuit for subsistence. To prevent localized depletion, management of narwhals is based on summer stocks. The High Arctic Cetacean Survey (HACS), conducted in August 2013, was the first survey to estimate abundance of all 4 Canadian Baffin Bay narwhal summer stocks, as well as putative stocks in Jones Sound and Smith Sound, in the same summer. Narwhal abundance was estimated using a double-platform aerial survey. Distance sampling methods were used to estimate detection probability away from the track line. Mark-recapture methods were used to correct for the proportion of narwhals missed by visual observers on the track line (i.e., perception bias). We used a data-driven approach to identify single and duplicate sightings, using 4 covariates to compare differences in sightings made by front and rear observers based on: time of sighting, declination angle, group size, and species identity. Abundance in fjords was estimated using density surface modelling to account for their complex shape and uneven coverage. Estimates were corrected for availability bias (narwhals that are not available for detection because they are submerged when the aircraft passes overhead) using a new analysis of August dive behaviour data from narwhals equipped with satellite-linked time depth recorders. Corrected abundance estimates were 12,694 (95% CI: 6,324-25,481) for the Jones Sound stock; 16,360 (95% CI: 3,833-69,836) for the Smith Sound stock; 49,768 (95% CI: 32,945-75,182) for the Somerset Island stock; 35,043 (95% CI: 14,188-86,553) for the Admiralty Inlet stock; 10,489 (95% CI: 6,342-17,347) for the Eclipse Sound stock; and 17,555 (95% CI: 8,473-36,373) for the East Baffin Island stock. Total abundance for these 6 stocks was estimated at 141,908 (95% CI: 102,464-196,536). Sources of uncertainty arise from the high level of clustering observed, in particular in Admiralty Inlet, Eclipse Sound, and East Baffin Island, as well as the difficulty in identifying duplicate sightings between observers when large aggregations were encountered.

Best regards,

Thomas Doniol-Valcroze, PhD
Head, Cetacean Research Program
Pacific Biological Station
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Nanaimo, BC  V9T 6N7
thomas.doniol-valcroze at dfo-mpo.gc.ca<mailto:thomas.doniol-valcroze at dfo-mpo.gc.ca>

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