Funded by the Environmental Studies Research Fund (ESRF), JASCO Applied Sciences has undertaken a 2-year, large-scale underwater acoustic monitoring program across eastern Canadian waters. With 20 Autonomous Multichannel Acoustic Recorders (AMAR G3s) spanning from offshore Halifax to the northern Labrador shelf in waters ranging from 44 to 2000 m, this program is the first of its kind in Atlantic Canada.
The waters off the Canadian Atlantic coast are home to a wealth of marine life including at least 31 species of marine mammals, 10 of which are considered at risk under COSEWIC (Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada). Species considered endangered include:
Northern bottlenose whale (Hyperoodon ampullatus)
Beluga whale (Delphinapterus leucas)
North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis)
Blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus)
These species are of particular interest to management bodies because not enough is known about their distribution or habitat to effectively protect and manage them. So one of the overarching goals of this acoustic monitoring program is to learn when and where these whales are present off Atlantic Canada.
The area that was monitored in this study has diverse human activities. These include an extensive amount of fishing, shipping, and oil and gas exploration activities. The contribution of human produced noise to the ocean soundscape has increased in recent decades, a phenomenon largely driven by expanded shipping and oil and gas exploration worldwide. So the second goal of this monitoring program is to better understand the underwater soundscape of the region and monitor areas that are of interest to the oil and gas industry.
A third goal of this program is to perform a transmission loss experiment (to measure the attenuation of sound as it propagates through the water) and acquire geoacoustic profiles of the seabed. In combination with JASCO’s computer models of underwater sound propagation, this data will allow us to better predict the acoustic footprints of seismic surveys in the area.
The first year of acoustic data (August 2015 to July 2016) has been collected and analyzed. Results were presented at the 22nd Biannual Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals. These presentations can be viewed below.
The second year of recordings (July 2016 to July 2017) have been successfully retrieved and are undergoing analysis. So stay tuned for further reports and publications!
Photos from the field
Conference presentations, October 2017
These results from the 2015/2016 measurements were presented at the 22nd Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals in Halifax, Nova Scotia in October 2017, hosted by the international Society for Marine Mammalogy:
See the full Conference Program.