[MARMAM] New Publication: Changes in Sea Ice and Range Expansion of Sperm Whales in the Eclipse Sound Region of Baffin Bay, Canada

Natalie Posdaljian nposdalj at ucsd.edu
Wed Apr 13 15:17:43 PDT 2022


Dear colleagues,

On behalf of my co-authors and myself, we are excited to share our new
publication in Global Change Biology titled "Changes in sea ice and range
expansion of sperm whales in the eclipse sound region of Baffin Bay,
Canada"

Natalie Posdaljian, Caroline Soderstjerna, Josuah M. Jones, Alba
Solsona-Berga, John A. Hildebrand, Kristin Westdal, Alex Ootoowak, Simone
Baumann-Pickering

Abstract:
Sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) are a cosmopolitan species but are
only found in ice-free regions of the ocean. It is unknown how their
distribution might change in regions undergoing rapid loss of sea ice and
ocean warming like Baffin Bay in the eastern Canadian Arctic. In 2014 and
2018, sperm whales were sighted near Eclipse Sound, Baffin Bay: the first
recorded uses of this region by sperm whales. In this study, we investigate
the spatiotemporal distribution of sperm whales near Eclipse Sound using
visual and acoustic data. We combine several published open-source, data
sets to create a map of historical sperm whale presence in the region. We
use passive acoustic data from two recording sites between 2015 and 2019 to
investigate more recent presence in the region. We also analyze regional
trends in sea ice concentration (SIC) dating back to 1901 and relate
acoustic presence of sperm whales to the mean SIC near the recording sites.
We found no records of sperm whale sightings near Eclipse Sound outside of
the 2014/2018 observations. Our acoustic data told a different story, with
sperm whales recorded yearly from 2015 to 2019 with presence in the late
summer and fall months. Sperm whale acoustic presence increased over the
5-year study duration and was closely related to the minimum SIC each year.
Sperm whales, like other cetaceans, are ecosystem sentinels, or indicators
of ecosystem change. Increasing number of days with sperm whale presence in
the Eclipse Sound region could indicate range expansion of sperm whales as
a result of changes in sea ice. Monitoring climate change-induced range
expansion in this region is important to understand how increasing presence
of a top-predator might impact the Arctic food web.

The full article is available here:
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/gcb.16166

Cheers,

Natalie Posdaljian
Ph.D. Candidate
Scripps Acoustic Ecology Lab
Scripps Institution of Oceanography
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