Acoustic Monitoring of Marine Mammals and Ship Traffic in the ISR

Regions: Inuvialuit Settlement Region

Tags: physical sciences, sea ice, hydroacoustic survey, marine mammals

Principal Investigator: Insley, Stephen J (12)
Licence Number: 16330
Organization: Wildlife Conservation Society Canada
Licenced Year(s): 2019 2018
Issued: Jun 14, 2018
Project Team: William Halliday (colleague, WCS Canada), Matt Pine (post doctoral fellow, University of Victoria), Lila Tauzer (assistant, WCS Canada)

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

Project Description: The main objective is to assess and mitigate 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 entrances to the Northwest Passage shipping route, particularly the Amundsen Gulf and Banks Island area.

To accomplish the objectives, the research team have designed a program to work with local communities to remotely monitor both marine mammal and shipping activities in the Amundsen Gulf and the eastern Beaufort Sea. The main monitoring effort involves passive acoustic monitors (PAM), acoustic dataloggers (recorders) that can be left unattended to record sounds and then retrieved for downloading and analysis. The research team have deployed and recovered nine recorders since 2014 in the Sachs Harbour and Ulukhaktok areas. Five recorders are currently deployed near Sachs Harbour, Ulukhaktok, Johnson Point, Jesse Bay, and Browns Harbour, and will be recovered and redeployed during July/August 2018.

Recorders are normally deployed via small craft based out of the local communities, at a depth of roughly 30 m based on handheld measures of water depth taken on site. Deployment gear includes a small anchor (e.g. soft sand-bags, ca. 10 kg, are used to minimize bottom impact), the recorder, and a 50-100 m drag line attached to a smaller anchor. There are no surface floats on these deployments unless the recorders are to be recovered within the same season. The positively buoyant recorder is suspended above the ocean floor at an approximate depth of 25 m where it remains until it is manually recovered the following year.

Retrieval occurs from a small craft the following season using a hook on line to intercept the drag line. The instruments themselves are aluminum/fiberglass cylinders, roughly 1m in length by 0.1m width (ca. 3 x 0.5ft). Each recorder weighs approximately 20kg in air and is positively buoyant (ca. 10kg) under water.

Consultation involves both formal interactions (e.g. with the Sachs Harbour, Ulukhaktok or Paulatuk Hunters and Trappers Committees) 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 in the communities.

During the fall after each season's deployments/recoveries, results to date are expected to be shared with individuals and community representatives at the Inuvialuit Game Council meeting. In addition, the results can be shared in the communities during Hunters and Trappers Committee meetings, whenever possible during opportunistic discussions with community members, and at other meetings such as ArcticNet.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from July 1, 2018 to December 31, 2018.