Estimates of the Abundance of Cetaceans in the Central North Atlantic from the T-NASS Icelandic and Faroese Ship Surveys Conducted in 2007

  • Daniel Pike Esox Associates
  • Thorvaldur Gunnlaugsson
  • Bjarni Mikkelsen
  • Sverrir Daniel Halldórsson
  • Gísli Víkingsson
  • Mario Acquarone
  • Geneviève Desportes
Keywords: NASS, North Atlantic, cetaceans, abundance, surveys, Balaenoptera, physalus, musculus, borealis, acutorostrata, Megaptera physeter, Globicephala melas, Lagenorhynchus, whales, dolphins, distribution

Abstract

The Trans-North Atlantic Sightings Survey (T-NASS) carried out in June-July 2007 was the fifth in a series of large-scale cetacean surveys conducted previously in 1987, 1989, 1995 and 2001. The core survey area covered an area of about 1.8 million nm² spanning from the Eastern Barents Sea at 34°E to the east coast of Canada, and between 52°N and 78°N in the east and south to 42°N in the west. We present design-based abundance estimates from the Faroese and Icelandic vessel survey components of T-NASS, as well as results from ancillary vessels which covered adjoining areas. The 4 dedicated survey vessels used a Buckland-Turnock (B-T) mode with a tracker platform searching an area ahead of the primary platform and tracking sightings to provide data for bias correction. Both uncorrected estimates, using the combined non-duplicate sightings from both platforms, and mark-recapture estimates, correcting estimates from the primary platform for bias due to perception and availability, are presented for those species with a sufficient number of sightings. Corrected estimates for the core survey area are as follows: fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus): 30,777 (CV=0.19); humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae): 18,105 (CV=0.43); sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus): 12,268 (CV=0.33);  long-finned pilot whales (Globicephala melas): 87,417 (CV=0.38); white-beaked dolphins (Lagenorhynchus albirostris): 91,277 (CV=0.53); and white-sided dolphins (L. acutus): 81,008 (CV=0.54). Uncorrected estimates only were possible for common minke whales (B. acutorstrata): 12,427 (CV=0.27); and sei whales (B. borealis): 5,159 (CV=0.47). Sighting rates from the ancillary vessels, which used a single platform, were lower than those from the dedicated vessels in areas where they overlapped. No evidence of responsive movement by any species was detected, but there was some indication that distance measurements by the primary platform may have been negatively biased. The significance of this for the abundance estimates is discussed. The relative merits of B-T over other survey modes are discussed and recommendations for future surveys are provided.

References

Buckland, S. T., Anderson, D., Burnham, K., Laake, J., Borchers, D., & Thomas, L. (2001). Introduction to distance sampling estimating abundance of biological populations. Oxford University Press.

Buckland, S. T., & Turnock, B. J. (1992). A Robust Line Transect Method. Biometrics, 48(3), 901–909. https://doi.org/10.2307/2532356

Burt, M. L., Borchers, D. L., Jenkins, K. J., & Marques, T. A. (2014). Using mark–recapture distance sampling methods on line transect surveys. Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 5(11), 1180–1191. https://doi.org/10.1111/2041-210X.12294

Canadas, A., Desportes, G., & Borchers, D. L. (2004). The estimation of the detection function and g(0) for short-beaked common dolphins (Delphinis delphis), using double-platform data collected during the NASS-95 Faroese survey. Journal of Cetacean Research and Management, 6(2), 191–198.

Croll, D. A., Acevedo-Gutierrez, A., Tershy, B. R., & Urban-Ramırez, J. (2001). The diving behavior of blue and fin whales: is dive duration shorter than expected based on oxygen stores? Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part A, 797-809. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1095-6433(01)00348-8

Hammond, P., Macleod, K., Gillespie, D., Swift, R., Winship, A., Burt, M., … Castro, R. (2009). Cetacean Offshore Distribution and Abundance in the European Atlantic (CODA), 43. Available at http://biology.st-andrews.ac.uk/coda/documents/CODA_Final_Report_11-2-09.pdf

Hammond, P. S., Lacey, C., Gilles, A., Viquerat, S., Boerjesson, P., Herr, H., … Scheidat, M. (2017). Estimates of cetacean abundance in European Atlantic waters in summer 2016 from the SCANS-III aerial and shipboard surveys. Wageningen Marine Research. Available at https://synergy.st-andrews.ac.uk/scans3/files/2017/04/SCANS-III-design-based-estimates-2017-04-28-final.pdf

Hammond, P. S., Macleod, K., Berggren, P., Borchers, D. L., Burt, M. L., Cañadas, A., … Vázquez, J. A. (2013). Cetacean abundance and distribution in European Atlantic shelf waters to inform conservation and management. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2013.04.010

Heide-Jørgensen, M. P., Bloch, D., Stefansson, E., Mikkelsen, B., Ofstad, L., Dietz, R., … H & Dietz, L. (2002). Diving behaviour of long-finned pilot whales Globicephala melas around the Faroe Islands. Wildlife Biology, 8. https://doi.org/10.2981/wlb.2002.020

Hooker, S. K., & Baird, R. W. (1999). Deep-diving behaviour of the northern bottlenose whale, Hyperoodon ampullatus (Cetacea: Ziphiidae). Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 266(1420), 671–676. https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.1999.0688

Innes, S., Heide-Jørgensen, M. P., Laake, J. L., Laidre, K. L., Cleator, H. J., Richard, P., & Stewart, R. E. (2002). Surveys of belugas and narwhals in the Canadian High Arctic in 1996. NAMMCO Scientific Publications, 4(0), 169–190. https://doi.org/10.7557/3.2843

International Fund for Animal Welfare. (2010). Marine Conservation Research. Retrieved from http://www.marineconservationresearch.co.uk/downloads/logger-2000-rainbowclick-software-downloads/

Laake, J. L., & Borchers, D. L. (2004). Methods for incomplete detection at distance zero. In ‘Advanced Distance Sampling’.(Eds S. T. Buckland, D. R. Anderson, K. P. Burnham, J. L. Laake, D. L. Borchers and L. Thomas.) pp. 108–189. Oxford University Press: Oxford.

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.

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. Available at http://biology.st-andrews.ac.uk/coda/documents/CODA_Appendix_I_design-based_estimates.pdf

North Atlantic Marine Mammal Commission (NAMMCO). (2009). NAMMCO Planning Committee on the Trans North Atlantic Sightings Survey (T-NASS) Working Group V. NAMMCO Annual Report 2007-2008, North Atlantic Marine Mammal Commission, Tromsø, Norway, pp. 219-251. Available at http://nammco.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Annual-Report-2007-2008.pdf

North Atlantic Marine Mammal Commission (NAMMCO). (2016). T-NASS 2007. Retrieved August 14, 2019, from NAMMCO website: https://nammco.no/topics/abundance-surveys-counting-whales/

Øien, N. (2009). Distribution and abundance of large whales in Norwegian and adjacent waters based on ship surveys 1995-2001. NAMMCO Scientific Publications, 7(0), 31–47. https://doi.org/10.7557/3.2704

Palka, D. l., & Hammond, P. S. (2001). Accounting for responsive movement in the transect estimates of abundance. Canadian Journal of Fisheries & Aquatic Sciences, 58(4), 777-787. https://doi.org/10.1139/f01-024

Paxton, C. G. M., Burt, M. L., Hedley, S. L., Víkingsson, G. A., Gunnlaugsson, T., & Desportes, G. (2009). Density surface fitting to estimate the abundance of humpback whales based on the NASS-95 and NASS-2001 aerial and shipboard surveys. NAMMCO Scientific Publications, 7, 143–159. https://doi.org/10.7557/3.2711

Pike, D. G. (2009). North Atlantic Sightings Surveys. Introduction. NAMMCO Scientific Publications, 7, 7–18. https://doi.org/10.7557/3.2702

Pike, D. G., Gunnlaugsson, T., Desportes, G., Mikkelsen, B., Víkingsson, G. A., & Bloch, D. (2019a). Estimates of the relative abundance and trend of long-finned pilot whales (Globicephala melas) in the Northeast Atlantic from 1987 to 2015. NAMMCO Sci. Publ., 11. https://doi.org/10.7557/3.11

Pike, D. G., Gunnlaugsson, T., Mikkelsen, B., & Víkingsson, G. A. (2019b). Estimates of the abundance of cetaceans in the central North Atlantic based on the NASS Icelandic and Faroese ship surveys in 2015. NAMMCO Sci. Publ., 11. https://doi.org/10.7557/3.11

Pike, D. G., Gunnlaugsson, T., Oien, N., Desportes, G., Víkingsson, G. A., Paxton, C. G. M., & Bloch, D. (2005). Distribution, abundance and trends in abundance of fin and humpback whales in the North Atlantic. ICES CM 2005/R:12.

Pike, D. G., Gunnlaugsson, T., Víkingsson, G. A., & Bloch, D. (2009). Estimates of the abundance of minke whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) from Faroese and Icelandic NASS shipboard surveys. NAMMCO Scientific Publications, 7, 81–93. https://doi.org/10.7557/3.2707

Pike, D. G., Gunnlaugsson, T., & Víkingsson, G. A. (2006). An estimate of g(0) for the NASS-2001 survey for fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus) in Icelandic and Faroese waters. SC/14/FW/19 for the NAMMCO Scientific Committee.

Pike, D. G., Gunnlaugsson, T., Víkingsson, G. A. & Sigurjónsson, J. (2019c). Distribution and abundance of cetaceans in Icelandic waters over 30 years of aerial surveys. NAMMCO Scientific Publications, 11. (in press).

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. https://doi.org/10.7557/3.2710

Sigurjónsson, J. (1992). Recent studies on abundance and trends in whale stocks in Icelandic and adjacent waters. In Royal Academy of Overseas Sciences (pp. 77–111). Brussels 1991: Royal Academy of Overseas Sciences

Stockin, K. A., Fairbairns, R. S., Parsons, E. C. M., & Sims, D. W. (2001). Effects of diel and seasonal cycles on the dive duration of the minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata). Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 81(1), 189–190. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0025315401003630

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. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2664.2009.01737.x

Víkingsson, 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. https://doi.org/10.7557/3.2705

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

Whitehead, H., Brennan, S., & Grover, D. (1992). Distribution and behaviour of male sperm whales on the Scotian Shelf, Canada. Canadian Journal of Zoology, 70(5), 912–918. https://doi.org/10.1139/z92-130

Published
2020-05-18
How to Cite
PikeD., GunnlaugssonT., MikkelsenB., HalldórssonS. D., VíkingssonG., AcquaroneM., & DesportesG. (2020). 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

Most read articles by the same author(s)

1 2 > >>