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

Regions: Inuvialuit Settlement Region

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

Principal Investigator: Insley, Stephen J (12)
Licence Number: 15873
Organization: Wildlife Conservation Society Canada
Licensed Year(s): 2017 2016 2015 2014
Issued: Apr 27, 2016
Project Team: William Halliday (Research Assistant/Analyst , WCS Canada), Lila Tauzer (Research Assistant/Analyst, WCS Canada), Marta Bolgan (Research Assistant/Analyst, University of Victoria)

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 have 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 retrieved for downloading and analysis. A single datalogger was successfully deployed and recovered near to Sachs Harbour for five weeks during the ice free season as a pilot study. During the 2015 season, two dataloggers were deployed in the region of Cape Kellett and recovered in late August. A third datalogger was then deployed to record overwinter. During this season the research team expect to recover and redeploy the unit near Cape Kellet, and if possible, deploy two units near Johnson Point in the Prince of Wales Strait. If done in a timely manner, the team expect the results to potentially lead to the avoidance of both lethal and sub-lethal impacts on Arctic marine mammals from future shipping. The results are expected to provide valuable and timely information that is likely to be important for dealing with ecosystem change.

There are two main opportunities for local involvement in the project. The first opportunity is through consultation. Consultation involves both formal interactions (e.g. with the Sachs Harbour Hunters and Trappers Committee) 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. The second opportunity is through field assistance/guides.

During the winter or spring following data collection, the Principal Investigator expects to travel to the community of Sachs Harbour in order to share the results with the community during a Hunters and Trappers Committee meeting. The results are also to be shared with the wider Inuvialuit Settlement Region community during a Game Council meeting. If possible, the timing of presentations/discussions and datalogger deployments will if possible be arranged to occur at the same time in order to cut down on expenses.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from April 27, 2016 to December 31, 2016.