Acoustic Monitoring of Marine Mammals and Ship Traffic in the Amundsen Gulf

Regions: Inuvialuit Settlement Region

Tags: hydroacoustic survey, marine mammals, bowhead whales

Principal Investigator: Insley, Stephen J (12)
Licence Number: 15670
Organization: Wildlife Conservation Society Canada
Licenced Year(s): 2017 2016 2015 2014
Issued: May 07, 2015

Objective(s): To assess the impacts of increased shipping and sea-ice loss on marine mammals in the eastern Beaufort Sea.

Project Description: The main objective of the current study is to assess the impacts of increased shipping and sea-ice loss on marine mammals in the eastern Beaufort Sea. The primary methodology is passive acoustic monitoring at the western entrance to the Northwest Passage shipping route, particularly the Amundsen Gulf and Banks Island area.

To accomplish the objectives, the research team has designed a program to work with the local community of Sachs Harbour to remotely monitor both marine mammal and shipping activities at the entrance to the Amundsen Gulf in the eastern Beaufort Sea. The main monitoring effort will involve passive acoustic monitors (PAM), acoustic dataloggers that can be left unattended to record sounds and then be retrieved for downloading and analysis. The plan is to deploy two PAMs in the region of Cape Kellett, recovering the units in late August, and if possible, leaving one unit out over winter. If done in a timely manner, the research team expects the results to potentially lead to the avoidance of both lethal and sub-lethal impacts on Arctic marine mammals, as well as help to understand how an increased abundance of apex predators can affect marine mammal behavior and survival. The results are expected to provide valuable and timely information that is likely to be important for dealing with ecosystem change.

is the research team will interact with the community through consultation. Consultation involves both formal interactions (e.g. with the Sachs Harbour HTC) and various informal interactions such as during meetings (e.g. Inuvialuit Game Council, the Beaufort Sea Partnership, and the ArcticNet conference) as well as during discussions with various locals while in Sachs Harbour.

During the winter or spring following the second season of data collection, the research team expects to travel to the community of Sachs Harbour in order to share the results with the community during an open HTC meeting. This year, the most likely time for this communication to occur is during the spring of 2015 during the time of instrument deployment. The results are also to be shared with the wider Inuvialuit Settlement Region communities during an Inuvialuit Game Council meeting. If possible, the timing of both presentations and discussions will occur during the same trip in order to cut down on expenses.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from May 8, 2015 to October 1, 2015.