Distribution and Abundance of the Eastern Canada – West Greenland Bowhead Whale Population Based on the 2013 High Arctic Cetacean Survey
Keywords:bowhead whale, Baffin Bay, Eastern-Canada West-Greenland, abundance, aerial survey, double-platform, distance sampling, density surface modelling, availability bias
The hunting of bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus) is an integral part of Inuit culture. An up-to-date abundance estimate of the entire Eastern Canada – West Greenland (EC-WG) bowhead population is necessary to support sustainable management of this harvest. The High Arctic Cetacean Survey (HACS) was conducted in August 2013, primarily to update abundance estimates for known stocks of Baffin Bay narwhal (Monodon monoceros). As the ranges of narwhal and bowhead largely overlap, the survey area was expanded to cover the summer range of bowhead whales. Bowhead whale abundance was estimated using 3 aircraft to cover the large survey area within a short time frame. Distance sampling methods were used to estimate detection probability away from the track line. Double platform with mark-recapture methods were used to correct for the proportion of whales missed by visual observers on the track line (perception bias). Abundance in Isabella Bay, an area known for high bowhead density, was estimated using density surface modelling to account for its complex shape and uneven coverage. Estimates were corrected for availability bias (whales that were not available for detection because they were submerged when the aircraft passed overhead) using a recent analysis of satellite-linked time depth recorders transmitting information on the diving behaviour of bowhead whales in the study area in August of the same survey year. The fully corrected abundance estimate for the EC-WG bowhead whale population was 6,446 (95% CI: 3,838–10,827). Possible sources of uncertainty include incomplete coverage and the diving behaviour of bowhead whales. These results confirm earlier indications that the EC-WG stock is continuing to recover from past overexploitation.
Buckland, S. T., Anderson, D. R., Burnham, K. P., Laake, J. L., Borchers, D. L., & Thomas, L. (2001). Introduction to Distance Sampling. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Chambault, P., Albertsen, C. M., Patterson, T. A., Hansen, R. G., Tervo, O., Laidre, K. L., & Heide-Jørgensen, M. P. (2018). Sea surface temperature predicts the movements of an Arctic cetacean: the bowhead whale. Scientific Reports, 8, 9658. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-27966-1
Cochran, W. (1977). Sampling techniques. New York: John Wiley & Sons.
Cosens, S. E., Cleator, H., & Richard, P. (2006). Numbers of Bowhead Whales (Balaena mysticetus) in the Eastern Canadian Arctic, based on aerial surveys in August 2002, 2003 and 2004. Canadian Science Advisory Research Secretariat Research Document, 2006/052, 25 pp.
Cosens, S.E. and Innes, S., 2000. Distribution and numbers of bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus) in northwestern Hudson Bay in August 1995. Arctic, 53, 36–41. https://doi.org/10.14430/arctic832
COSEWIC. (2009). COSEWIC Assessment Summary - Bowhead Whale - Eastern Canada-West Greenland population. Retrieved from https://wildlife-species.canada.ca/species-risk-registry/virtual_
Davis, R. A., & Koski, W. (1980). Recent observations of bowhead whales in the eastern Canadian High Arctic. Reports of the International Whaling Commission, 30, 439–444.
DFO. (2015). Updated abundance estimate and harvest advice for the Eastern Canada-West Greenland bowhead whale population. Canadian Science Advisory Research Secretariat Science Advisory Report, 2015/052, 11 pp.
Doniol-Valcroze, T., Gosselin, J-F., Pike, D. G., Lawson, J. W., Asselin, N. C., Hedges, K., & Ferguson, S. (2020). Narwhal abundance in the Eastern Canadian High Arctic in 2013. NAMMCO Scientific Publications, 11. https://doi.org/10.7557/3.5100
Dueck, L. P., Hiede-Jørgensen, M. P., Jensen, M. V., & Postma, L. D. (2006). Update on investigations of bowhead whale (Balaena mysticetus) movements in the eastern Arctic, 2003- 2005, based on satellite-linked telemetry. Canadian Science Advisory Research Secretariat Research Document, 2006/050, 27 pp.
Dueck, L., Richard, P., & Cosens, S. E. (2007). A review and re-analysis of Cosens et al. (2006) aerial survey assessment of bowhead whale abundance for the eastern Canadian Arctic. Canadian Science Advisory Research Secretariat Research Document, 2007/080, 33 pp.
Finley, K. J. (1990). Isabella Bay, Baffin Island: An important historical and present-day concentration area for the endangered bowhead whale (Balaena Mysticetus) of the Eastern Canadian Arctic. Arctic, 43(2), 137–152. https://doi.org/10.14430/arctic1604
Fortune, S.M., Young, B.G., and Ferguson, S.H. (2020). Age-and sex-specific movement, behaviour and habitat-use patterns of bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus) in the Eastern Canadian Arctic. Polar Biology, 43(11), 1725-1744. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00300-020-02739-7
Frasier, T. R., Petersen, S. D., Postma, L., Johnson, L., Heide-Jørgensen, M. P., & Ferguson, S. H. (2015). Abundance estimates of the Eastern Canada-West Greenland bowhead whale (Balaena mysticetus) population based on genetic capture-mark-recapture analyses. Canadian Science Advisory Research Secretariat Research Document, 2015/008, 25 pp.
Hamilton, O.N.P., Kincaid, S.E., Constantine, R., Kozmian‐Ledward, L., Walker, C.G., & Fewster, R.M. (2018). Accounting for uncertainty in duplicate identification and group size judgements in mark–recapture distance sampling. Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 9, 354-362. https://doi.org/10.1111/2041-210X.12895
Hansen, R. G., Boye, T. K., Larsen, R. S., Nielsen, N. H., Tervo, O., Nielsen, R. D., Rasmussen, M.H., Sinding, M.H.S., & Heide-Jørgensen, M. P. (2019). Abundance of whales in West and East Greenland in summer 2015. NAMMCO Scientific Publications, 11. https://doi.org/10.7557/3.4689
Hansen, R. G., Heide-Jørgensen, M. P., & Laidre, K. (2012). Recent abundance of bowhead whales in Isabella Bay, Canada. Journal of Cetacean Research and Management, 12, 317–319.
Hay, K., Aglukark, D., Igutsaq, D., Ikkidluak, J., & Mike, M. (2000). Final report of the Inuit bowhead knowledge study. Retrieved from Nunavut Wildlife Management Board website: https://www.nwmb.com/en/publications/bowhead-knowledge-study/1819-bowhead-knowledge-study-eng/file
Hedley, S. L., & Buckland, S. T. (2004). Spatial models for line transect sampling. Journal of Agricultural, Biological and Environmental Statistics, 9, 181–199. https://doi.org/10.1198/1085711043578
Heide-Jørgensen, M. P., Laidre, K. L., & Fossette, S. (2008). Re-analysis of a reanalysis of a Canadian Bowhead survey – revision of SC/60/BRG21. SC/60/BRG21 (Revised) for the IWC Scientific Committee.
Higdon, J. (2010). Commercial and subsistence harvests of bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus) in eastern Canada and West Greenland. Journal of Cetacean Research and Management, 11, 185–216.
Higdon, J. W., & Ferguson, S. H. (2016). Historical abundance of Eastern Canada - West Greenland (EC-WG) bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus) estimated using catch data in a deterministic discrete-time logistic population model. Canadian Science Advisory Research Secretariat Research Document, 2016/023.
IWC. (2009). Annex F: Report of the Subcommittee on Bowhead, Right and Gray Whales. Journal of Cetacean Research and Management, 11 (Suppl).
Koski, W., Heide-Jørgensen, M. P., & L. Laidre, K. (2006). Winter abundance of bowhead whales, Balaena mysticetus, in Hudson Strait, March 1981. Journal of Cetacean Research and Management, 8, 139–144.
Krutzikowsky, G. K., & Mate, B. R. (2000). Dive and surfacing characteristics of bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus) in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas. Canadian Journal of Zoology, 78(7), 1182–1198. https://doi.org/10.1139/z00-046
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. https://doi.org/10.2307/3802415
Laake, J.L., Borchers, D., Thomas, L., Miller, D., & Bishop, J. (2019). mrds: Mark-Recapture Distance Sampling. R package version 2.2.1.
Marsh, H., & Sinclair, D. (1989). Correcting for visibility bias in strip transect aerial surveys of aquatic fauna. Journal of Wildlife Management, 53(4), 1017–1024. https://doi.org/10.2307/3809604
McLaren, I. (1961). Methods of determining the numbers and availability of ringed seals in the eastern Canadian Arctic. Arctic, 14, 162–175. https://doi.org/10.14430/arctic3671
North Atlantic Marine Mammal Commission (NAMMCO). (2019). Bowhead Whale. Retrieved from: https://nammco.no/topics/bowhead-whale/
Nielsen, N. H., Laidre, K., Larsen, R. S., & Heide-Jørgensen, M. P. (2015). Identification of potential foraging areas for bowhead whales in Baffin Bay and adjacent waters. Arctic, 68(2), 169–179. https://doi.org/10.14430/arctic4488
Pike, D. G., Gunnlaugsson, T., Sigurjónsson, J., & Víkingsson, G. A. (2020). 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
Postma, L. D., Dueck, L. P., Heide-Jørgensen, M. P., & Cosens, S. E. (2006). Molecular genetic support of a single population of bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus) in Eastern Canadian Arctic and Western Greenland waters. Canadian Science Advisory Research Secretariat Research Document, 2006/051, 23 pp.
Priest, H., & Usher, P. (2004). The Nunavut Wildlife Harvest Study. Retrieved from https://www.nwmb.com/en/publications/
Rekdal, S. L., Hansen, R. G., Borchers, D., Bachmann, L., Laidre, K. L., Wiig, Ø., … & Heide‐Jørgensen, M. P. (2015). Trends in bowhead whales in West Greenland: Aerial surveys vs. genetic capture-recapture analyses. Marine Mammal Science, 31(1), 133–154. https://doi.org/10.1111/mms.12150
Richard, P. R., Weaver, P., Dueck, L., & Barber, D. G. (1994). Distribution and numbers of Canadian High Arctic narwhals (Monodon monoceros) in August 1984. Meddelelser Om Grønland, Bioscience, 39, 41–50.
Southwell, C., de la Mare, B., Underwood, M., Quartararo, F., & Cope, K. (2002). An automated system to log and process distance sight-resight aerial survey data. Wildlife Society Bulletin (1973-2006), 30(2), 394–404.
Strindberg, S., & Buckland, S. T. (2004). Zigzag survey designs in line transect sampling. Journal of Agricultural, Biological, and Environmental Statistics, 9(4), 443–461. https://doi.org/10.1198/108571104X15601
Thomas, L., Williams, R., & Sandilands, D. (2007). Designing line transect surveys for complex survey regions. Journal of Cetacean Research and Management, 9(1), 1–13.
Thomas, L., Buckland, S.T., Rexstad, E.A., Laake, J.L., Strindberg, S., Hedley, S.L., Bishop, J.R., Marques, T.A., & 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
Vacquié-Garcia, J., Lydersen, C., Marques, T.A., Aars, J., Ahonen, H., Skern-Mauritzen, M., Øien, N., & Kovac, K.M. (2017). Late summer distribution and abundance of ice-associated whales in the Norwegian High Arctic. Endangered Species Research, 32, 59-70. https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00791
Watt, C. A., Marcoux, M., Leblanc, B., & Ferguson, S. H. (2015). Instantaneous availability bias correction for calculating aerial survey abundance estimates for bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus) in the Canadian High Arctic. Canadian Science Advisory Council Research Secretariat Research Document, 2015/046, 27.
Wood, S. N. (2006). Generalized Additive Models: An Introduction with R, Second Edition (2 edition). Boca Raton: Chapman and Hall/CRC.
Würsig, B., Dorsey, E. M., Fraker, M. A., Payne, R. S., Richardson, W. J., & Wells, R. S. (1984). Behavior of bowhead whales, Balaena mysticetus, summering in the Beaufort Sea: surfacing, respiration, and dive characteristics. Canadian Journal of Zoology, 62(10), 1910–1921. https://doi.org/10.1139/z84-281
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).