"Some people talk to animals. Not many listen though. That's the problem."

-A.A. Milne

Migration and Distribution Patterns

Distribution and seasonal occurrence throughout the Northeast US

We use long-term passive acoustic recording collected throughout areas of key interest, such as the Gulf of Maine, Georges Bank, Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary and the New York Bight area, to investigate the seasonal and spatial distributions of species with known call types. Our primary goal here is to better understand the distribution and seasonal occurrence of marine mammals throughout the North east US. By making long term recordings we can examine shifts in distribution and occurrence and monitor how species may be changing their behavior as a result of climatic changes and anthropogenic activities.

Figures from Risch et al. 2014 on seasonal migrations of the North Atlantic minke whale:

Daily minke whale pulse train detections
Figure 1: Minke whale pulse train detections per day for one averaged year. Sites numbered from North- South, 1-10 (northernmost site, 1 = Gulf of Saint Lawrence; southernmost site, 10 = Saba Bank.
Spatial distribution of minke whale pulse trains
Figure 2: Maps illustrating the spatial distribution of all minke whale pulse trains detected at recorders located at sites (a) New York (site 5) and (b) Jacksonville (sites 7-9).

Spatial distribution of minke whale pulse trains

Figure 3: Maps of Sea Surface Temperature (SST) data for 2012, averaged by season (a) spring (March-May) and (b) autumn (September-November). Black dots represent recording sites 2-9 and dotted lines show hypothetical migration pathways based on frequencies of acoustic detections at different recording sites.

Western Atlantic Passive acoustic Analysis of large Whales (WAPAW)

Available archival passive acoustic was collected from colleagues who have been working throughout the Western Atlantic seaboard for a comprehensive look at the acoustic presence of five species of baleen whales (North Atlantic right whale, sei whale, fin whale, blue whale and humpback whale) from 2002 to 2013. The analysis is divided into different regions based on state boundaries to help us prioritize our work. Results will show us where on the shelf these species migrate and what the timing of these movements are. We will also find out if species change the areas they used over the long term.
Comprehensive map of WAPAW data locations
Recording Platforms

Figure (left): Map with analysis-divided regions and locations of recorded data. See list of collaborators below for data-sources.

Data collaborators:
  • Dave Mellinger & Sharon Nieukirk, OSU (Data: Nova Scotia, Iceland, Greenland, Mid-Atlantic Ridge)
  • Hilary Moors-Murphy , DFO (Data: Scotian Shelf)
  • Erin Summers, Maine Department of Marine Resources (Data: Inshore ME/ Gulf of Maine)
  • College of the Atlantic (Data: Jordan Basin)
  • New England Whale Center (Data: Jeffreys Ledge)
  • JASCO, Ltd. (Data: Nantucket Sound, Delaware Bay)
  • Cornell University (Data: New York)
  • NOAA SEFSC (Data: North Carolina, South Carolina, Savannah, Jacksonville)
  • Duke University (Data: North Carolina, South Carolina, Savannah, Jacksonville)
  • NAVFAC (Data: North Carolina, Jacksonville)
  • Kate Stafford (Data: Davis Straight)
  • Ana Sirovic, UC San Diego (Data: Bermuda)
  • Susan Parks, Syracuse University (Data: Bay of Fundy)
  • NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center
  • Gary Buchanan, NJDEP (Data: New Jersey)
  • Helen Bailey, University of Maryland (Data: Maryland)
  • Catherine Berchok, NMML (Data: Dominican Republic)




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(File Modified Sep. 06 2016)