Estimated Abundances of Cetacean Species in the Northeast Atlantic from Two Multiyear Surveys Conducted by Norwegian Vessels between 2002–2013
Keywords:North Atlantic, cetacean, abundance, line-transect, fin whales, humpback whales, sperm whales, killer whales, harbour porpoises, dolphins
Two shipboard line-transect surveys of the Northeast Atlantic were conducted between 2002–2007 and 2008–2013 to meet the ongoing requirements of the Revised Management Procedure (RMP) for common minke whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata acutorostrata) developed by the International Whaling Commission’s Scientific Committee. Here we present estimated abundances for non-target species for which there were sufficient sightings, including fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus), humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae), sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus), killer whales (Orcinus orca), harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena), and dolphins of genus Lagenorhynchus. The 2 surveys were conducted using a multiyear mosaic survey design with 2 independent observer platforms operating in passing mode, each with 2 observers. The abundances of Lagenorhynchus spp. from the 2002–2007 survey were estimated using single-platform standard distance sampling methods because of uncertainty in identifying duplicate sightings. All other estimates were derived using mark-recapture distance sampling techniques applied to a combined-platform dataset of observations, correcting for perception bias. Most notably, we find that the abundance of humpback whales, similar in both survey periods, has doubled since the 1990s with the most striking changes occurring in the Barents Sea. We also show that the pattern in distribution and abundance of fin whales and sperm whales is consistent with our earlier surveys, and that abundances of small odontocete species, which were not estimated in earlier surveys, show stable distributions with some variation in their estimates. Our estimates do not account for distributional shifts between years or correct for biases due to availability or responsive movement.
Barlow, J. (1988). Harbour porpoise, Phocoena phocoena, abundance estimation for California, Oregon and Washington. Ship surveys. Fishery Bulletin (US), 86, 417– 432.
Bjørge, A., & Øien, N. (1995). Distribution and abundance of harbour porpoise, Phocoena phocoena, in Norwegian waters. In Biology of the Phocoenids. Report of the International Whaling Commission, Special Issue 16, 89-98.
Bøthun, G., Skaug, H. J., & Øien, N. (2009). Abundance of minke whales in the Northeast Atlantic based on survey data collected over the period 2002-2007. Unpublished manuscript (Document SC/61/RMP2 for the IWC Scientific Committee).
Buckland, S. T., Anderson, D. R., Burnham, K. P., Laake, J. L., Borchers, D. L., & Thomas, L. (2001). Introduction to Distance Sampling. London: Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2664.2009.01737.x
Buckland, S., & Turnock, B. (1992). A Robust Line Transect Method. Biometrics, 48(3), 901-909. https://doi.org/10.2307/2532356
Christensen, I. (1982). Killer whales in Norwegian coastal waters. Report of the International Whaling Commission, 32, 633672.
Christensen, I. (1988). Distribution, movements and abundance of killer whales (Orcinus orca) in Norwegian coastal waters, 1982–1987, based on questionnaire surveys. Rit Fiskideildar, 11, 79–88.
Christensen, I., Haug, T., & Øien, N. (1992). Seasonal distribution, exploitation and present abundance of stocks of large baleen whales (Mysticeti) and sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) in Norwegian and adjacent waters. ICES Journal of Marine Science, 49(3), 341-355. https://doi.org/10.1093/icesjms/49.3.341
Dolphin, W. F. (1987). Dive behavior and estimated energy expenditure of foraging humpback whales in southeast Alaska. Canadian Journal of Zoology, 65(2), 354-362. https://doi.org/10.1139/z87-055
Drouot, V., Gannier, A., & Goold, J. C. (2004). Diving and feeding behaviour of sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) in the northwestern Mediterranean Sea. Aquatic mammals, 30(3), 419-426. https://doi.org/10.1578/AM.30.3.2004.419
Fewster, R. M., Buckland, S. T., Burnham, K. P., Borchers, D. L., Jupp, P. E., Laake, J. L., & Thomas, L. (2009). Estimating the Encounter Rate Variance in Distance Sampling. Biometrics, 65, 225-236. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1541-0420.2008.01018.x
Foote, A. D., Vıkingsson, G., Øien, N., Bloch, D., Davis, C. G., Dunn, T. E., ... & Thompson, P. M. (2007). Distribution and abundance of killer whales in the North East Atlantic. Unpublished manuscript (Document SC/59/SM5 for the IWC Scientific Committee).
Gilles, A., Viquerat, S., Becker, E. A., Forney, K. A., Geelhoed, S. C. V., Haelters, J., … & Aarts, G. (2016). Seasonal habitat-based density models for a marine top predator, the harbor porpoise, in a dynamic environment. Ecosphere, 7(6), e01367. https://doi.org/10.1002/ecs2.1367
Gjøsæter, H., Bogstad, B., & Tjelmeland, S. (2009). Ecosystem effects of the three capelin stock collapses in the Barents Sea. Marine Biology Research, 5, 40–53. https://doi.org/10.1080/17451000802454866
Hammond, P. S., Berggren, P., Benke, H., Borchers, D. L., Collet, A., Heide-Jørgensen, M. P., … & Øien, N. (2002). Abundance of harbour porpoise and other cetaceans in the North Sea and adjacent waters. Journal of Applied Ecology, 39, 361–376. https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-2664.2002.00713.x
Hammond, P. S., Lacey, C., Gilles, A., Viquerat, S., Börjesson, P., Herr, H., … & Øien, N. (2017). Estimates of cetacean abundance in European Atlantic waters in summer 2016 from the SCANS-III aerial and shipboard surveys. SCANS-III project report 1, 39pp. Retrieved from https://synergy.st-andrews.ac.uk/scans3/files/2017/05/SCANS-III-design-based-estimates-2017-05-12-final-revised.pdf
Hammond, P. S., Macleod, K., Berggren, P., Borchers, D. L., Burt, L., Cañadas, A., … & Gordon, J. (2013). Cetacean abundance and distribution in European Atlantic shelf waters to inform conservation and management. Biological Conservation, 164, 107-122. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2013.04.010
International Whaling Commission (IWC). (1994). Report of the Scientific Committee. Annex K. Area definitions for RMP implementations. Report of the International Whaling Commission, 44, 175-176.
International Whaling Commission (IWC). (2004). Report of the Scientific Committee. Annex D, Appendix 14. Report of the working group on North Atlantic minke whales RMP Implementation Review. Journal of Cetacean Resource Management, 6(Supplement), 171-183.
Jourdain, E., & Karoliussen, R. (2018). Identification Catalogue of Norwegian killer whales: 2007-2018. Available at https://figshare.com/articles/The_Norwegian_Orca_ID-Catalogue_2016_Version_2_/4205226
Jourdain, E., Ugarte, F., Víkingsson, G. A., Samarra, F. I., Ferguson, S. H., Lawson, J., ... & Desportes, G. (2019). North Atlantic killer whale Orcinus orca populations: a review of current knowledge and threats to conservation. Mammal Review, 49(4), 384-400. https://doi.org/10.1111/mam.12168
Keen, E. M., Wray, J., Meuter, H., Thompson, K. L., Barlow, J. P., & Picard, C. R. (2017). ‘Whale wave’: shifting strategies structure the complex use of critical fjord habitat by humpbacks. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 567, 211-233. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12012
Kennedy, A. S., Zerbini, A. N., Vásquez, O. V., Gandilhon, N., Clapham, P. J., & Adam, O. (2013). Local and migratory movements of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) satellite-tracked in the North Atlantic Ocean. Canadian Journal of Zoology, 92(1), 9-18. https://doi.org/10.1139/cjz-2013-0161
Kuningas, S., Similä, T., & Hammond, P. S. (2014). Population size, survival and reproductive rates of northern Norwegian killer whales (Orcinus orca) in 1986–2003. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 94(6), 1277-1291. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0025315413000933
Laake, J. L., & Borchers, D. L. (2004). Methods for incomplete detection at distance zero. In S. T. Buckland, D. R. Anderson, K. P. Burnham, J. L. Laake, D. L. Borchers & L. Thomas. (eds.), Advanced Distance Sampling, 108-189. London: Oxford University Press.
Leaper, R., Burt, L., Gillespie, D., & Macleod, K. (2010). Comparisons of measured and estimated distances and angles from sightings surveys. Journal of Cetacean Research and Management, 11, 229–237.
Leonard, D. M., & Øien, N. (2020). Estimated abundances of cetacean species in the Northeast Atlantic from Norwegian shipboard surveys conducted in 2014-2018. NAMMCO Scientific Publications, 11. https://doi.org/ 10.7557/3.4694
Macleod, K., Burt, M., Cañadas, A., Rogan, E., Santos, B., Uriarte, A., ... & Hammond, P. (2009). Appendix I1 Design-based estimates of cetacean abundance in offshore European Atlantic waters. Retrieved from http://biology.st-andrews.ac.uk
North Atlantic Marine Mammal Commission (NAMMCO). (1998). Report of the Fifth Meeting of the Scientific Committee, Tromsø, Norway. 10-14 March 1997. In NAMMCO Annual Report, 1997, 85-202. Available at https://nammco.no/topics/annual-reports/
North Atlantic Marine Mammal Commission (NAMMCO). (2018). Report of the NAMMCO Scientific Working Group on Abundance Estimates. Retrieved from https://nammco.no/topics/sc-working-group-reports/
North Atlantic Marine Mammal Commission (NAMMCO). (2019). Report of the Abundance Estimates Working Group, October 2019, Tromsø, Norway. Available at https://nammco.no/topics/abundance_estimates_reports/
Nøttestad, L., Krafft, B. A., Anthonypillai, V., Bernasconi, M., Langård, L., Mørk, H. L., & Fernö, A. (2015). Recent changes in distribution and relative abundance of cetaceans in the Norwegian Sea and their relationship with potential prey. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, 2, 83. https://doi.org/10.3389/fevo.2014.00083
Palka, D. L., & Hammond, P. S. (2001). Accounting for responsive movement in line transect estimates of abundance. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 58, 777-787. https://doi.org/10.1139/f01-024
Panigada, S., Zanardelli, M., Canese, S., & Jahoda, M. (1999). How deep can baleen whales dive? Marine Ecology Progress Series, 187, 309-311. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps187309
Paxton, C. G. M., Gunnlaugsson, T., & Mikkelsen, B. (2009). Mark-recapture distance sampling estimate of minke whales from the Icelandic, Faroese and Russian components of T-NASS. Unpublished manuscript (Document SC/61/RMP12 for the IWC Scientific Committee).
Pike, D. G., Paxton, C. G., Gunnlaugsson, T., & Víkingsson, G. A. (2009). Trends in the distribution and abundance of cetaceans from aerial surveys in Icelandic coastal waters, 1986-2001. NAMMCO Scientific Publications, 7, 117-142.
Pike, D. G., Gunnlaugsson, T., Desportes, G., Mikkelsen, B. Vikingsson, G. A., & Bloch, D. (2019a). Estimates of the Relative Abundance of Long-finned Pilot Whales (Globicephala melas) in the Northeast Atlantic from 1987 to 2015 indicate no long-term trends. NAMMCO Scientific Publications, 11. https://doi.org/10.7557/3.4643
Pike, D. G., Gunnlaugsson, T., Mikkelsen, B., & Víkingsson, G. A. (2019b). Estimates of the abundance of cetaceans from the NASS Icelandic and Faroese ship surveys in 2015. NAMMCO Scientific Publications, 11. https://doi.org/10.7557/3.4941
Pike, D. G., Gunnlaugsson, T.,Mikkelsen, B., Halldórsson, S. D., Víkingsson, G. A., Acquarone, M., & Desportes, G. (2020a). Estimates of the Abundance of Cetaceans in the Central North Atlantic from the T-NASS Icelandic and Faroese Ship Surveys Conducted in 2007. NAMMCO Scientific Publications, 11. https://doi.org/10.7557/3.5269
Pike, D. G., Gunnlaugsson, T., Sigurjónsson, J., & Víkingsson, G. A. (2020b). Distribution and Abundance of Cetaceans in Icelandic Waters over 30 Years of Aerial Surveys. NAMMCO Scientific Publications, 11. https://doi.org/10.7557/3.4805
Schweder, T., Skaug, H. J., Dimakos, X. K., Langaas, M., & Øien, N. (1997). Abundance of northeastern Atlantic minke whales, estimates for 1989 and 1995. Report of the International Whaling Commission, 47, 453-483.
Skaug, H. J., Øien, N., Schweder, T., & Bøthun, G. (2004). Abundance of minke whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) in the Northeastern Atlantic. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Science, 61(6), 870-886. https://doi.org/10.1139/f04-020
Skern-Mauritzen, M., Skaug, H. J., & Øien, N. (2009). Line transects, environmental data and GIS: Cetacean distribution, habitat and prey selection along the Barents Sea shelf edge. NAMMCO Scientific Publications, 7, 179-200. https://doi.org/10.7557/3.2713
Skern-Mauritzen, M., Johannesen, E., Bjørge, A., & Øien, N. (2011). Baleen whale distributions and prey associations in the Barents Sea. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 426, 289-301. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps09027
Smith, T. D., Allen, J., Clapham, P. J., Hammond, P. S., Katona, S., Larsen, F., ... & Øien, N. (1999). An ocean basin wide mark recapture study of the north Atlantic humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae). Marine Mammal Science, 15(1), 1-32. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1748-7692.1999.tb00779.x
Smith, T. D., & Pike, D. G. (2009). The enigmatic whale: The North Atlantic humpback. NAMMCO Scientific Publications, 7, 161-178. https://doi.org/10.7557/3.2712
Solvang, H. K., Skaug, H. J., & Øien, N. I. (2015). Abundance estimates of common minke whales in the Northeast Atlantic based on survey data collected over the period 2008-2013. Unpublished manuscript (Document SC/66a/RMP8 for the IWC Scientific Committee).
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, 5-14. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2664.2009.01737.x
Víkingsson, G. A., Pike, D. G., Valdimarsson, H., Schleimer, A., Gunnlaugsson, T., Silva, T., ... & Hammond, P. S. (2015). Distribution, abundance, and feeding ecology of baleen whales in Icelandic waters: have recent environmental changes had an effect? Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, 3. https://doi.org/10.3389/fevo.2015.00006
Visser, F., Hartman, K. L., Pierce, G. J., Valavanis, V. D., & Huisman, J. (2011). Timing of migratory baleen whales at the Azores in relation to the North Atlantic spring bloom. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 440, 267-279. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps09349
Watkins, W. A., Moore, K. E., & Tyack, P. (1985). Sperm whale acoustic behaviors in the southeast Caribbean. Cetology, 49, 1-15.
Øien, N. (1990). Sighting surveys in the Northeast Atlantic in July 1988: Distribution and abundance of cetaceans. Report of the International Whaling Commission, 40, 499-511.
Øien, N. (1995). Norwegian Independent Line Transect Survey 1995. Interne notat, nr. 8 – 1995, Institute of Marine Research.
Øien, N. (1996). Lagenorhynchus species in Norwegian waters as revealed from incidental observations and recent sighting surveys. Unpublished manuscript (Document SC/48/SM 15 for the IWC Scientific Committee).
Øien, N. (2009). Distribution and abundance of large whales in Norwegian and adjacent waters based on ship surveys 1995-2001. NAMMCO Scientific Publications, 7, 31-47. https://doi.org/10.7557/3.2704
Øien, N., & Schweder, T. (1996). Planning of sighting surveys to cover the Northeast Atlantic over a six-year period. Unpublished manuscript (Document SC/48/NA4 for the IWC Scientific Committee).
How to Cite
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).