CURRENT NEWS

Blue and Fin Whale Acoustic Trends Working Group (ATWG)

 

A joint IWC-SORP-SOOS Capability Working Group

ATWG aims to implement a long term research program examining trends in Southern Ocean Antarctic blue (ABW) and fin whale (FW) population growth, distribution, and seasonal presence using passive acoustic monitoring techniques. In the SO, Antarctic blue whales (ABW) and fin whales (FW) were severely depleted during commercial whaling. To monitor the post-exploitation status of ABW and FW in this remote area, the use of a circum-Antarctic network of passive acoustic recorders (PAR) has been proposed by the ATWG. Passive acoustic data can provide year-round information on species distribution and movement and ultimately estimates of relative abundance. These insights provide the basis for management decisions and effective conservation measures such as the designation of marine protected areas.
 
Through international collaboration the ATWG proposes to complete the coverage for a Southern Ocean Hydrophone Network (SOHN). This circum-Antarctic monitoring effort is: Multi-year, Multi-site, Interdisciplinary, International/inter-institutional. The ATWG is looking for partners within SOOS with access to instrumentation and/or infrastructure (e.g. moorings, ships) to collect passive acoustic data in the Southern Ocean, ideally working in the yellow areas (see map above). The ATWG provides: coordination and support of co-operation in instrument deployments between collaborators; recommendations on instruments and mooring settings (technical report: Van Opzeeland et al. 2013); a network for international student training to deploy and work with PAR; A pan-Antarctic passive acoustic monitoring database freely available to participant members from which large scale patterns in ABW and FW (but also other species, such as Antarctic minke whales, humpback whales, Antarctic pinnipeds) distribution and habitat use can be extracted.
 
The IWC-SORP/SOOS Acoustic Trends Working Group is:

Susannah Buchan (Universidad de Concepcion, Chile)
Ken Findlay (Cape Peninsula University of Technology, South Africa)
Danielle Harris (University of St Andrews, UK)
Brian Miller (Australian Antarctic Division, Aus)
Flore Samaran* (CNRS, France)
Ana Širović (Scripps Institution of Oceanography, USA)
Kathleen Stafford* (University of Washington, USA)
Ilse Van Opzeeland (Alfred Wegener Institute, Germany)

*Co-Chairs

More information on ATWG is available at the IWC-SORP website

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