[MARMAM] New Publication: Harbor Porpoise in Hood Canal, WA

Greg Schorr gschorr at marecotel.org
Tue Jan 9 13:30:20 PST 2024

Dear MARMAM community,

On behalf of my co-authors, we are pleased to provide our recent paper
titled "Distribution, abundance, and density of harbor porpoises in Hood
Canal, Washington" which was recently published as an Open Access research
article in the Journal of Wildlife Management.

The paper can be found at:

The reference is:
Rone BK, Zerbini AN, Falcone EA, Keene EL, Schorr GS Distribution,
abundance, and density of harbor porpoises in Hood Canal, Washington. The
Journal of Wildlife Management n/a(n/a):e22543.

Harbor porpoises (*Phocoena phocoena*) are the only cetaceans routinely
sighted in Hood Canal, a narrow fjord that comprises the western edge of
Puget Sound, Washington, USA. Harbor porpoises are sensitive to
anthropogenic sounds, including noise from recreational and commercial
vessel traffic, and the United States Navy, which conducts military
training and testing within Hood Canal that can include underwater sound
sources. This study was funded as part of the Navy monitoring program to
assess potential impacts of naval activities on cetaceans. We conducted
vessel-based line-transect surveys for harbor porpoises in Hood Canal in
2022–2023 to derive seasonal estimates of abundance and density. We carried
out surveys over 37 days and surveyed the entire canal twice per season
totaling 2,176 km of on-effort track line. We recorded 809 on-effort harbor
porpoise groups and 1,385 individuals. Seasonal abundance estimates were
lowest in winter (308 animals, 95% CI = 189–503) and gradually increased
through spring and summer to a peak of 1,336 animals (95% CI = 826–2,160)
in fall. Overall porpoise density was highest in central Hood Canal, an
area that includes a designated United States Navy training range, though
porpoise sightings were notably absent in a 21-km2 area adjacent to the
naval submarine base within this otherwise high-density region. Though we
collected only a single year of data, these results suggest that harbor
porpoise abundance in Hood Canal increased significantly since it was last
estimated (2013–2015). The notable seasonal fluctuation of harbor porpoise
abundance suggests Hood Canal may host a larger percentage of the overall
Washington Inland Waters stock during the fall season, raising important
management considerations.

Best regards,


Greg Schorr
Research Scientist
Marine Ecology and Telemetry Research
2468 Camp McKenzie Trail NW, Seabeck WA 98380-4513
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