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Endangered Species Research

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ESR 47:265-289 (2022)  -  DOI:

Acoustic occurrence of baleen whales, particularly blue, fin, and humpback whales, off eastern Canada, 2015-2017

Julien J.-Y. Delarue1,*, Hilary Moors-Murphy2, Katie A. Kowarski1, Genevieve E. Davis3, Ildar R. Urazghildiiev1, S. Bruce Martin1

1JASCO Applied Sciences (Canada) Ltd., Halifax, NS B3B 1Z1, Canada
2Fisheries and Oceans Canada (Maritimes Region), Bedford Institute of Oceanography, Dartmouth, NS B2Y 4A2, Canada
3Northeast Fisheries Science Center, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Woods Hole, MA 02543-1026, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Six baleen whale species occur off eastern Canada, but little is known of their year-round occurrence across this large region. This complicates identifying areas that are important to them and may require critical habitat designation, especially for those species considered at risk. This is particularly true between fall and spring because of a lack of visual survey effort. The main objective of this paper is to provide a year-round and pluriannual description of the minimum acoustic occurrence of baleen whales, particularly blue Balaenoptera musculus, fin B. physalus, and humpback whales Megaptera novaeangliae. We deployed 25 acoustic recorders off eastern Canada between May 2015 and November 2017, and the data were analyzed using a combination of automated detectors and manual validation to identify vocalizations produced by these species. Blue, fin, and humpback whales occurred off eastern Canada year-round, a finding which contrasts the traditional seasonal latitude migration narrative for these species. The Scotian Shelf region and Flemish Pass-Orphan Basin areas seem particularly important for these animals and should be the focus of future research. Sei B. borealis, minke B. acutorostrata, and North Atlantic right whale Eubalaena glacialis vocalizations also occurred in the data but were not adequately captured by the adopted methodology. Coarse patterns of occurrence are presented for these species as a foundation for more detailed analyses. This study is the first to cover eastern Canadian waters for an extended continuous period and provides a baseline against which future changes can be assessed.

KEY WORDS: Baleen whale · Acoustic occurrence · Blue whale · Fin whale · Humpback whale · Eastern Canada

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Cite this article as: Delarue JJ-Y, Moors-Murphy H, Kowarski KA, Davis GE, Urazghildiiev IR, Martin SB (2022) Acoustic occurrence of baleen whales, particularly blue, fin, and humpback whales, off eastern Canada, 2015-2017. Endang Species Res 47:265-289.

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