[MARMAM] New publication: Exposure and behavioral responses of tagged beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) to ships in the Pacific Arctic

Morgan J. Martin mjmartin at sandiego.edu
Mon Oct 10 04:29:06 PDT 2022


Dear All,

We are excited to inform you that a new paper has been published on the
behavioral responses of tagged beluga whales to ships and ship noise in the
Pacific Arctic. This paper describes the surface movements and dive
behavior of nine tagged Eastern Beaufort Sea belugas during encounters with
vessels off Canada, Alaska and Russia. The paper is open access and freely
available online via the following link. Please consider downloading the
supplementary materials file which contains animations and dive profiles of
each beluga encounter with one or more vessels.

Martin, M. J., Halliday, W. D., Storrie, L., Citta, J. J., Dawson, J.,
Hussey, N. E., Juanes,
F., Loseto, L. L., MacPhee, S. A., Moore, L., Nicoll, A., O'Corry-Crowe,
G., & Insley, S. J. (2022). Exposure and behavioral responses of tagged
beluga whales (*Delphinapterus leucas*) to ships in the Pacific Arctic.
Marine Mammal Science, 1–35. https://doi.org/10.1111/mms.12978

Supplementary animations and figures can be downloaded via this link:
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/action/downloadSupplement?doi=10.1111%2Fmms.12978&file=mms12978-sup-0001-Figures_and_Animations.ppsx

Abstract:
Arctic marine mammals face a multitude of challenges linked to climate
change, including increasing anthropogenic noise from ship traffic. The
beluga whale (*Delphinapterus leucas*), a predominately Arctic endemic
cetacean, relies heavily on acoustic communication, with documented overlap
between their vocalizations and hearing range and ship noise. Some belugas
migrate through areas with the highest levels of ship traffic in the
Pacific Arctic and exposure to ship noise is highly probable. Here, we
document the responses of nine satellite-tagged Eastern Beaufort Sea
belugas to encounters with ships in the Beaufort, Chukchi, and Bering Seas
during July–December 2018. We report 177 occasions when ships were within
125 km of tagged belugas and quantified changes in lateral and vertical
movements to investigate individual behavioral responses to ship approaches
within 50 km (n = 23). Belugas' swim speed was negatively correlated with
ship distance, showing possible changes in swim speed up to 79 km away.
Changes in lateral and vertical movements, indicating disruption of
behavior, were observed when some ships passed within 50 km. These findings
corroborate previous studies that have shown behavioral responses of
belugas to ships at distances far beyond visual range, implying belugas
react to low-amplitude ship noise near ambient levels.

PDF requests can be sent to mjmartin at sandiego.edu

Thank you for your time!

Morgan J. Martin, PhD
Postdoctoral researcher
Wildlife Conservation Society Canada
University of Victoria, Canada
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