Community-Based Passive Acoustic Monitoring of Marine Mammals near Paulatuk, NT

Regions: Inuvialuit Settlement Region

Tags: physical sciences, community based monitoring, hydroacoustic survey, marine mammals

Principal Investigator: Ruben, Diane (4)
Licence Number: 15706
Organization: Paulatuk Hunters and Trappers Committee
Licensed Year(s): 2015
Issued: Jul 07, 2015
Project Team: Jennie Knopp (Field Team Leader, Oceans North Canada), Diane Ruben (Administration, Paulatuk HTC), Danny Swainson (Field Team/Project Assistant, Fisheries Joint Management Committee), TBA (x2) (Field Team, Paulatuk HTC), Amanda Joynt (Project Coordinator, Oceans North Canada)

Objective(s): To support community needs and beluga science; to protect key Arctic marine habitat, and develop a management and monitoring framework that may be adapted to manage the Marine Protected Area upon final designation.

Project Description: The expression of interest from the community of Paulatuk combined with the concurrent Marine Protected Area (MPA) process created an opportune circumstance for the Inuvialuit Settlement Region, Community Based Monitoring Program to advance a project in partnership with the Paulatuk Hunters and Trappers Committee (PHTC) that supported community needs, forwarded beluga science, contributed to protecting key Arctic marine habitat, and developed a management and monitoring framework that could be potentially adapted to manage the MPA upon final designation.

This study proposes to use four simultaneous methods for determining marine mammal presence, abundance, and habitat use within the project area (1) Two Autonomous Multichannel Acoustic Recorder Generation 3 passive acoustic monitoring systems, (2) standardized local observations, (3) a radio cable from the hydrophone to land, and (4) drones. The PHTC are interested in working with all four methods of passive monitoring of beluga presence and abundance in the Darnley Bay area. This triangulation of methods has never been used before to study Arctic marine mammals. The data generated by this project will be owned by the Paulatuk HTC.

The acoustic monitors will be placed approximately 100m offshore from Tipi Point on the west side of Darnley Bay and at Fish Camp (between the Hornaday and Brock River deltas). Local boats and observers are hired to deploy the equipment and also to provide the observations during the 28 days that the acoustic monitoring takes place. The equipment and camps will be removed after the program is completed. The drones will be small, quadricopter models to be operated by the observers to capture beluga behaviour on video. The observers will be trained in the proper operating procedures and will follow the Environmental Impact Screening Committee flight altitude guidelines for areas where there are beluga and bowhead whales.

Local monitors are hired for the entirety of the field program. The Paulatuk HTC is the holder of the data that will be acquired and will use it to develop their community-based monitoring program as well as in the development of the monitoring program for the Anuniaqvia Niqiqyuam Area of Interest (ANAOI).

The Paulatuk HTC is a strong participant in this study and will own and house the data collected during the program. In addition, Oceans North will produce (in cooperation with the HTC) a final report on the 2015 program as well as the overall three-year program and present it to the community.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from July 8, 2015 to August 20, 2015.