Biologically important areas II for cetaceans within U.S. and adjacent waters - Gulf of Alaska Region
AuthorWild, Lauren A.
Pearson, Heidi C.
Gabriele, Christine M.
Neilson, Janet L.
Straley, Janice M.
North Pacific right whale
MetadataShow full item record
AbstractWe delineated and scored Biologically Important Areas (BIAs) for cetacean species in the Gulf of Alaska region. BIAs represent areas and times in which cetaceans are known to concentrate for activities related to reproduction, feeding, and migration, and also the known ranges of small and resident populations. This National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA)-led effort uses structured expert elicitation principles to build upon the first version of NOAA’s BIAs for cetaceans. Supporting evidence for these BIAs came from aerial-, land-, and vessel-based surveys; satellite-tagging data; passive acoustic monitoring; Indigenous knowledge; photo-identification data; and/or prey studies. A total of 20 BIAs were identified, delineated, and scored for six species: beluga whale (Delphinapterus leucas), fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus), gray whale (Eschrichtius robustus), humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae), North Pacific right whale (Eubalaena japonica), and sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus). Of the 20 total BIAs, there were two small and resident populations, one migratory, and 17 feeding areas; no reproductive BIAs were identified. An additional five watch list areas were identified, a new feature to the second version of BIAs. In addition to more comprehensive narratives and maps, the BIA II products improve upon the first version by creating metadata tables and incorporating a scoring and labeling system which improves quantification and standardization of BIAs within and across regions. BIAs are compilations of the best available science and have no inherent regulatory authority. They have been used by NOAA, other federal agencies, and the public to support planning and marine mammal impact assessments, and to inform the development of conservation measures for cetaceans.
Table of ContentsAbstract -- 1. Introduction -- 2. Methods -- 3. Regional summary -- 4. Examples of biologically important areas in the Gulf of Alaska -- 5. Conclusions/recommendations -- Data availability statement -- Ethics statement -- Author contributions -- Funding -- Acknowledgments -- Conflict of interest -- Publisher's note -- Supplementary material -- References.
PublisherFrontiers Media S. A.
CitationWild, L. A., Riley, H. E., Pearson, H. C., Gabriele, C. M., Neilson, J. L., Szabo, A., Moran, J., Straley, J. M., & DeLand, S. (2023). Biologically important areas II for cetaceans within US and adjacent waters–Gulf of Alaska Region. Frontiers in Marine Science, 10, 763. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2023.1134085
Showing items related by title, author, creator and subject.
Humpback Whale Movements and Behavior in Response to Whale-Watching Vessels in Juneau, AKSchuler, Alicia, R.; Piwetz, Sarah; Clemente, Jacopo Di; Steckler, David; Mueter, Franz; Pearson, Heidi C. (2019-11-20)The whale-watching industry in Juneau, Alaska relies primarily on the presence of North Pacific humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae). To meet demands from the rapidly growing tourism industry, the number of whale-watching vessels in this region has tripled over the last 18 years. As a result, increased vessel presence could have negative effects on humpback whales, ranging from short-term behavioral disturbance to long-term impacts. The current humpback whale viewing regulations are outdated and may not be as effective as they were 18 years ago, when both the whale-watching industry and humpback whale population were smaller. The present study assessed how humpback whale movement and behavioral patterns were affected by (1) vessel presence and number of vessels present, and (2) time spent in the presence of vessels. The study also determined how humpback whale behavioral state transitions were affected by vessel presence. A total of 201 humpback whale focal follows were conducted during summer 2016 and 2017. Based on linear mixed effects models, whales in the presence (vs. absence) of vessels exhibited 38.9% higher deviation in linear movement (p = 0.001), 6.2% increase in swimming speed (p = 0.047) and a 6.7% decrease in inter-breath intervals (IBI) (p = 0.025). For each additional vessel present, deviation increased by 6.2% (p = 0.022) and IBI decreased by 3.4% (p = 0.001). As time spent in the presence of vessels increased, respiration rate increased (p = 0.011). Feeding and traveling humpback whales were likely to maintain their behavioral state regardless of vessel presence, while surface active humpback whales were likely to transition to traveling in the presence of vessels. These short-term changes in movement and behavior in response to whale-watching vessels could lead to cumulative, long-term consequences, negatively impacting the health and predictability of the resource on which the industry relies. Current formal vessel approach regulations and voluntary guidelines should be revisited to reduce vessel pressure and mitigate potential negative effects of this growing whale-watching industry.
Humpback whales and humans: a multi-disciplinary approach to exploring the whale-watching industry in Juneau, AlaskaTeerlink, Suzanne F.; Horstmann, Larissa; Witteveen, Briana; Mueter, Franz; DeMaster, Doug; Beaudreau, Anne (2017-05)A booming whale-watching industry in Juneau, Alaska is leading to complicated resource management challenges. Juneau's growing commercial whale-watching industry includes over 60 vessels and generates more than $25 million in annual revenue. As this industry has increased, so too have concerns for the welfare of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) exposed to this vessel traffic. However, we lack a fundamental understanding of long-term impacts, if any, that vessel disturbance has on humpback whales. Further, we have insufficient data on local abundance and seasonal attendance of humpback whales that are necessary to detect potential future changes. The aim of this project is to investigate Juneau area humpback whales and their interactions with whale-watching tourism to set a foundation for sustainable management of this resource and industry. To reach this objective, three studies were employed. 1) Methods for monitoring humpback whale population parameters through a citizen science program were developed and tested. Photo-identification data were collected on whale-watching platforms and compared to data from dedicated surveys to objectively evaluate the citizen science data collection methods and identify biases. 2) Physiological markers were evaluated for signs of a chronic stress response in blubber of Juneau-area humpback whales compared with humpback whales from other areas in Alaska with far less vessel traffic. The concentrations of several steroid hormones, including cortisol, were measured from biopsy samples and used to infer a relative cumulative stress response in whales exposed to Juneau's tourism fleet. 3) Community perceptions toward Juneau's whale-watching industry and humpback whale management were collated to consider stakeholder concerns and suggestions for local humpback whale management. Participants were given the opportunity to share their perspectives on humpback whale welfare, community considerations and concerns, and recent and proposed management changes that affect the whale-watching industry. I found that citizen science data can produce reliable estimates of abundance, especially with sufficient effort. I did not find evidence for increased stress response in Juneau-area humpback whales and argue that this indicates habituation in these animals. Respondents in our survey generally supported Juneau's whale-watching industry, but expressed concerns for the vessel crowding and the welfare of humpback whales in this area. This project combines multiple scientific disciplines to tackle the initial steps necessary in understanding the complex interaction between humans and humpback whales near Juneau, and in making management decisions that ensure a sustainable future for Juneau's humpback whales and the whale-watching industry that relies on them.
Summer distribution and habitat characteristics of fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus) and humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) off Northeast Kodiak Island, AlaskaBaraff, Lisa Susan (2006-12)Summer distributions of fin (Balaenoptera physalus) and humpback (Megaptera novaeangliae) whales were examined relative to bathymetry, oceanography, and zooplankton composition and density in Marmot and Chiniak Bays (Kodiak Island, AK) during 2002 and 2003. Habitat use and habitat partitioning were assessed using Monte Carlo and randomization tests, logistic regression analyses, and kernel density probability contours of high-use areas. Fin whales associated with deeper, cooler waters near areas of maximum slope and consistently used Marmot Bay. Fin whale spatial-temporal distribution likely coincided with Neocalanus copepod concentrations during early summer and adult euphausiids later in summer. Fin whale associations with Pseudocalanus copepods may relate more to that copepods' prevalence than to relevance as prey. Humpback whale site fidelity and association with shallow waters was evident in 2002, but not in 2003. Variability in humpback whale distribution was likely related to their exploitation of forage fish aggregations and threshold foraging needs. High densities of adult euphausiids may promote spatial overlap and shared resource use by fin and humpback whales. This mesoscale snapshot of a dynamic nearshore marine environment and the whales foraging there is an integral step toward identifying and characterizing important habitats for endangered fin and humpback whales.