Abundance of Whales in West and East Greenland in Summer 2015
Keywords:surveys, marine mammals, whales, North Atlantic, abundance, Greenland, cetaceans, trends, aerial surveys
An aerial line transect survey of whales in West and East Greenland was conducted in August-September 2015. The survey covered the area between the coast of West Greenland and offshore (up to 100 km) to the shelf break and in East Greenland from the coast up to 50 km offshore crossing the shelf break. A total of 423 sightings of 12 cetacean species were obtained and abundance estimates were developed for common minke whale, (Balaenoptera acutorostrata), fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus), humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae), harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena), long-finned pilot whale, (Globicephala melas) and white-beaked dolphin (Lagenorhynchus albirostri). The estimates were corrected for perception bias and availability bias where possible. Data on surface corrections for minke whales and harbour porpoises were collected from whales instrumented with satellite-linked time-depth-recorders. Options for estimation methods are presented and the preferred estimates are: minke whales: 5,095 (95% CI: 2,171-11,961) in West Greenland and 2,762 (95% CI: 1,160-6,574) in East Greenland, fin whales: 2,215 (95% CI: 1,017-4,823) in West Greenland and 6,440 (95% CI: 3,901-10,632) in East Greenland, humpback whales: 993 (95% CI: 434-2,272) in West Greenland and 4,223 (95% CI: 1,845-9,666) in East Greenland, harbour porpoises: 83,321 (95% CI: 43,377-160,047) in West Greenland and 1,642 (95% CI: 319-8,464) in East Greenland, pilot whales: 9,190 (95% CI: 3,635-23,234) in West Greenland and 258 (95% CI: 50-1,354) in East Greenland, white-beaked dolphins 15,261 (95% CI: 7,048-33,046) in West Greenland and 11,889 (95% CI: 4,710-30,008) in East Greenland. The abundance of cetaceans in coastal areas of East Greenland has not been estimated before, but the limited historical information indicates that the achieved abundance estimates were remarkably high. Comparing the estimates from 2015 in West Greenland with a similar survey conducted in 2007, there is a trend towards lower densities in 2015 for the baleen whale species and white-beaked dolphins. Harbour porpoises and pilot whales, however, did not show a similar decline. The decline in baleen whale and white-beaked dolphin abundance is likely due to emigration to the East Greenland shelf areas where recent climate driven changes in pelagic productivity may have accelerated favourable conditions for these species.
Borchers, D. L., Laake, J. L., Southwell, C., & Paxton, C. G. M. (2005). Accommodating unmodeled heterogeneity in double-observer distance sampling surveys. Biometrics, 62, 372-378. doi:https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1541-0420.2005.00493.x DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1541-0420.2005.00493.x
Born, E. W. (1983). Havpattedyr og havfugle i Scoresby Sund: Fangst og forekomst. Retrieved from Henningsen Allé 58, 2900 Hellerup:
Buckland, S. T., Anderson, D. R., Burnham, K. P., Laake, J. L., Borchers, D. L., & Thomas, L. (2001). Introduction to distance sampling: Estimating abundance of biological populations (S. T. Buckland Ed.). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Hansen, R. G., & Heide-Jørgensen, M. P. (2013). Abundance and spatial trends of long-finned pilot whales, white-beaked dolphins and harbour porpoises in West Greenland. Marine Biology, 160(11), 2929-2941. doi:https://doi.org/10.1007/s00227-013-2283-8 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00227-013-2283-8
Heide-Jørgensen, M. P., Bloch, D., Stefansson, E., Mikkelsen, B., Ofstad, L. H., & Dietz, R. (2002). Diving behaviour of long-finned pilot whales Globicephala melas around the Faroe Islands. Wildlife Biology, 8(4), 307-313. doi:https://doi.org/10.2981/wlb.2002.020 DOI: https://doi.org/10.2981/wlb.2002.020
Heide-Jørgensen, M. P., Borchers, D. L., Witting, L., Laidre, K. L., Simon, M. J., Rosing-Asvid, A., & Pike, D. G. (2008). Estimates of large whale abundance in West Greenland waters from an aerial survey in 2005. Journal of Cetacean Research and Management, 10(2), 119-129. DOI: https://doi.org/10.47536/jcrm.v10i2.646
Heide-Jørgensen, M. P., Kleivane, L., Øien, N., Laidre, K. L., & Jensen, M. V. (2001). A new technique for deploying satellite transmitters on baleen whales: tracking a blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) in the North Atlantic. Marine Mammal Science, 17, 949-954. doi:https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1748-7692.2001.tb01309.x DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1748-7692.2001.tb01309.x
Heide-Jørgensen, M. P., & Laidre, K. L. (2015). Surfacing time, availability bias and abundance of humpback whales in West Greenland. Journal of Cetacean Research and Management, 15, 1-8. DOI: https://doi.org/10.47536/jcrm.v15i1.510
Heide-Jørgensen, M. P., Laidre, K. L., Hansen, R. G., Burt, M. L., Simon, M., Borchers, D. L., . . . Teilmann, J. (2012). Rate of increase and current abundance of humpback whales in West Greenland. Journal of Cetacean Research and Management, 12, 1-14. DOI: https://doi.org/10.47536/jcrm.v12i1.586
Heide-Jørgensen, M. P., Laidre, K. L., Simon, M., Burt, M. L., Borchers, D. L., & Rasmussen, M. (2010). Abundance of fin whales in West Greenland in 2007. Journal of Cetacean Research and Management, 11(2), 83-88. DOI: https://doi.org/10.47536/jcrm.v11i2.614
Heide-Jørgensen, M. P., Nielsen, N. H., Teilmann, J., & Leifsson, P. S. (2017). Long-term tag retention on two species of small cetaceans. Marine Mammal Science, 33(3), 713-725. doi:https://doi.org/10.1111/mms.12394 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/mms.12394
Heide-Jørgensen, M. P., Nordøy, E. S., Øien, N., Folkow, L. P., Kleivane, L., Blix, A. S., . . . Laidre, K. L. (2001). Satellite tracking of minke whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) off the coast of northern Norway. Journal of Cetacean Research and Management, 3(2), 175-178. DOI: https://doi.org/10.47536/jcrm.v3i2.887
Heide-Jørgensen, M. P., & Simon, M. (2007). Cue rates for common minke, fin and humpback whales in West Greenland. Journal of Cetacean Research and Management, 9(3), 211-214. DOI: https://doi.org/10.47536/jcrm.v9i3.669
Heide-Jørgensen, M. P., Simon, M. J., & Laidre, K. L. (2007). Estimates of large whale abundance in Greenlandic waters from a ship-based survey in 2005. Journal of Cetacean Research and Management, 9(2), 95-104. DOI: https://doi.org/10.47536/jcrm.v9i2.686
Heide-Jørgensen, M. P., Witting, L., Laidre, K. L., Hansen, R. G., & Rasmussen, M. (2010). Fully corrected estimates of common minke whale abundance in West Greenland in 2007. Journal of Cetacean Research and Management, 11(2), 75-82. DOI: https://doi.org/10.47536/jcrm.v11i2.613
Holm, G., & Petersen, J. (1921). Angmagssalik distrikt. Meddelelser om Grønland, 61, 560-561.
IWC. (1992). Report of the Comprehensive Assessment Special Meeting on North Atlantic Fin Whales. Report of the International Whaling Commission, 42, 595-644.
Jansen, T., Post, S., Kristiansen, T., Óskarsson, G. J., Boje, J., MacKenzie, B. R., . . . Siegstad, H. (2016). Ocean warming expands habitat of a rich natural resource and benefits a national economy. Ecological Applications, 26(7). doi:https://doi.org/10.1002/eap.1384 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/eap.1384
Jensen, A. S. (1928). The fauna of Greenland: University of Copenhagen.
Kennedy, A. S., Zerbini, A. N., Vásquez, O. V., Gandilhon, N., Clapham, P. J., & Adam, O. (2014). Local and migratory movements of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) satellite-tracked in the Nort Atlantic Ocean. Canadian Journal of Zoology, 92(1), 9-18. doi:https://doi.org/10.1139/cjz-2013-0161 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1139/cjz-2013-0161
Kern, S., Kaleschke, L., & Spreen, G. (2010). Climatology of the Nordic (Irminger, Greenland, Barents, Kara and White/Pechora) Seas ice cover based on 85 GHz satellite microwave radiometry: 1992-2008. Tellus A: Dynamic Meterology and Oceanography, 62(4), 411-434. doi:https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-0870.2010.00457.x DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-0870.2010.00457.x
Laake, J. L., & Borchers, D. L. (2004). Methods for incomplete detection at distance zero. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Laake, J. L., Calambokidis, J., Osmek, S. D., & Rugh, D. J. (1997). Probability of Detecting Harbor Porpoise from Aerial Surveys: Estimating g(0). Journal of Wildlife Management, 61(1), 63-75. doi:https://doi.org/10.2307/3802415 DOI: https://doi.org/10.2307/3802415
Larsen, F. (1995). Abundance of minke and fin whales off West Greenland, 1993. Report of the International Whaling Commission, 45, 365-370.
Magnusson, W. E., Caughley, G. J., & Grigg, G. C. (1978). A Double-Survey Estimate of Population Size from Incomplete Counts. Journal of Wildlife Management, 42(1), 174-176. doi:https://doi.org/10.2307/3800708 DOI: https://doi.org/10.2307/3800708
Mate, B., Mesecar, R., & Lagerquist, B. (2007). The evolution of satellite-monitored radio tags for large whales: One laboratory's experience. Deep-Sea Research Part Ii-Topical Studies in Oceanography, 54(3-4), 224-247. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dsr2.2006.11.021 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dsr2.2006.11.021
Nielsen, N. H., Teilmann, J., Sveegaard, S., Hansen, R. G., Sinding, M. H. S., Dietz, R., & Heide-Jørgensen, M. P. (2018). Oceanic movements, site fidelity and deep diving in harbour porpoises from Greenland show limited similarities to animals from the North Sea. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 597, 259-272. doi:https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12588 DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12588
Rasmussen, M. H., Akamatsu, T., Teilmann, J., Vikingsson, G., & Miller, L. A. (2013). Biosonar, diving and movements of two tagged white-beaked dolphin in Icelandic waters. Deep-Sea Research Part Ii-Topical Studies in Oceanography, 88-89, 97-105. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dsr2.2012.07.011 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dsr2.2012.07.011
Scoresby, W. (1823). Journal of a voyage to the northern whale-fishery; including researches and discoveries on the eastern coast of West Greenland, made in the summer of 1822, in the ship Baffin of Liverpool. Whitby, UK: Caedmon reprints. DOI: https://doi.org/10.5962/bhl.title.167760
Silva, M. A., Prieto, R., Jonsen, I., Baumgartner, M. F., & Santos, R. S. (2013). North Atlantic Blue and Fin Whales Suspend Their Spring Migration to Forage in Middle Latitudes: Building up Energy Reserves for the Journey? PLoS ONE, 8(10). doi:https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0076507 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0076507
Thomas, L., Buckland, S. T., Rexstad, E. A., Laake, J. L., Strindberg, S., Hedley, S. L., . . . Burnham, K. P. (2010). Distance software: design and analysis of distance sampling surveys for estimating population size. Journal of Applied Ecology, 47(1), 5-14. doi:https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2664.2009.01737.x DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2664.2009.01737.x
Vikingsson, G. A., Pike, D. G., Desportes, G., Øien, N., Gunnlaugsson, T., & Bloch, D. (2009). Distribution and abundance of fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus) in the Northeast and Central Atlantic as inferred from the North Atlantic Sightings Surveys 1987-2001. NAMMCO Scientific Publications, 7, 49-72. doi:https://doi.org/10.7557/3.2705 DOI: https://doi.org/10.7557/3.2705
Winge, H. (1902). Grønlands Pattedyr. Meddelelser om Grønland, 12, 319-521.
How to Cite
Copyright (c) 2018 Rikke Guldborg Hansen
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).