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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 631:1-17 (2019)  -  DOI:

Temporal and spatial distributions of delphinid species in Massachusetts Bay (USA) using passive acoustics from ocean gliders

Tammy L. Silva1,2,3,4,*, T. Aran Mooney2, Laela S. Sayigh2, Mark F. Baumgartner2

1Department of Biology, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, N. Dartmouth, Massachusetts 02747, USA
2Biology Department, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, Massachusetts 02543, USA
3Present address: School for Marine Science and Technology, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, New Bedford, Massachusetts 02744, USA
4Present address: Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Scituate, Massachusetts 02066, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Knowledge about marine mammal habitat use is necessary for informing ecosystem-based management and mitigating human impacts. Massachusetts Bay is an important marine mammal foraging area in the Gulf of Maine and an area of substantial human activity, but delphinid habitat use is poorly understood. The goals of this work were to (1) document temporal and spatial occurrence of delphinid species in Massachusetts Bay using passive acoustic monitoring from ocean gliders and (2) explore the potential influences of environmental conditions on delphinid distributions. Gliders were deployed in late fall and early winter of 2014 and 2015-2016 and were equipped with a digital acoustic recorder and conductivity-temperature-depth instrument. Gliders surveyed an area of approximately 1000 km2. Delphinid whistles were detected on 93 of 128 (73%) deployment days. Animals were detected more often at night. Presence was consistent over 2 years, although detection rates showed annual and monthly variability. Spatial distribution differed between years, but most detections occurred close to Stellwagen Bank. Visual assessment of spectrograms suggests the presence of 2 species, Atlantic white-sided dolphins and common dolphins. The reoccurrence of 2 probable signature whistles over several weeks and consecutive winter seasons suggests prolonged occupancy during winter and possible annual site fidelity. These data show a consistent and frequent presence of delphinids near a known marine mammal foraging area (Stellwagen Bank) during late fall and winter and are a first step towards understanding both how odontocetes influence the Massachusetts Bay/Gulf of Maine ecosystem and how they may be impacted by human activities.

KEY WORDS: Odontocetes · Habitat use · Passive acoustic monitoring · Stellwagen Bank · Gulf of Maine · Slocum gliders

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Cite this article as: Silva TL, Mooney TA, Sayigh LS, Baumgartner MF (2019) Temporal and spatial distributions of delphinid species in Massachusetts Bay (USA) using passive acoustics from ocean gliders. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 631:1-17.

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