ESR 28:225-234 (2015)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00683

North Atlantic right whale occurrence near wind energy areas along the mid-Atlantic US coast: implications for management

Kristin B. Hodge1, Charles A. Muirhead1, Janelle L. Morano1,2, Christopher W. Clark1, Aaron N. Rice1*

1Bioacoustics Research Program, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14850, USA
2Present address: Macaulay Library, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14850, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: The distribution and seasonal patterns of the North Atlantic right whale, Eubalaena glacialis, inform management decisions that mitigate anthropogenic threats. Based on data from visual surveys, much of the population migrates between winter calving grounds in coastal waters adjacent to the southeast USA and summer feeding and nursery grounds adjacent to the northeast USA. However, little is known about right whale occurrence along the mid-Atlantic US migratory corridor. A better understanding of right whale occurrence in this region is needed prior to offshore wind energy development activities, which may increase mortality risks and chronic impacts on the population. We conducted an 11 mo passive acoustic survey along coastal North Carolina and Georgia near several wind energy areas to document the acoustic occurrence of right whales in the southern region of the mid-Atlantic US coast. Right whales were acoustically detected across all seasons, with peak seasonal presence occurring during autumn in the Georgia site and during winter in the North Carolina site. A secondary peak in presence also occurred during June and July in the Georgia site, when right whales were not expected to be in the area. Given the nearly year-round presence of right whales in the survey areas, these results may warrant an evaluation of current management protocols in order to provide adequate protection to the population in the face of offshore energy development activities.


KEY WORDS: Eubalaena glacialis · Passive acoustic monitoring · Mid-Atlantic · Seasonality · Distribution · Management


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Cite this article as: Hodge KB, Muirhead CA, Morano JL, Clark CW, Rice AN (2015) North Atlantic right whale occurrence near wind energy areas along the mid-Atlantic US coast: implications for management. Endang Species Res 28:225-234. https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00683

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