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

-A.A. Milne

Northeast Acoustic Network (NEPAN)

NEPAN map overview
Overview of NEPAN acoustic areas
(Map: Mike Thompson, NOAA/SBNMS)

Our passive acoustic research group, together with valued collaborators and colleagues, has built what we call the US NorthEast Passive Acoustic sensing Network (NEPAN). NEPAN is a compilation of all current and near term passive acoustic projects that will be taking part in the Northeast US from 2014 - 2017.

These projects showcase a 'coming of age' or 'maturity' of passive acoustic technologies and its applications for conservation science and management. Given that NOAA does not direct any core funding towards passive acoustic research, these projects can be seen as a whole but originate through separately funded, competitive research programs and involve many partners (see below).

The following research projects currently make up NEPAN:

Near Real time data collection on baleen whale distribution and occurrence

Real Time Mooring
Slocum Glider
Wave Glider

Region: The US Northeast Gulf of Maine and the New York Bight

Aims: Collect near real time information on the acoustic presence of:

Right Whale Fin Whale Sei Whale Humpback Whale
North Atlantic right whales, fin whales, sei whales, and humpback whales every 2 hours. This information will be checked daily for accuracy and posted on dcs.whoi.edu. We will use real time moorings, electrical and wave gliders throughout this project to demonstrate how each different platform operates and its role in collecting vital information on baleen whale presence and occurrence. We will validate the acoustic recordings using a land based platform, NOAA vessel surveys and aerial surveys. Lastly, we also aim to use acoustic detections as a mechanism for decreasing the time spent searching for whales at sea using conventional vessel and aerial surveys.

Partners: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, NAVFAC, NY State

Funders: DOD ESTCP, US Navy LMR, NOAA Office of Protected Resources

Real time data collection for mitigation of potential impacts on right whales

Right Whale
Real Time Mooring

Region: Nantucket Sound

Aims: A real time mooring will be established to monitor the area in and around a US Coastguard gunnery range. The intent is to use this near- real time detection information as a management tool so that the Coastguard can view the website and decide whether or not to carry out an exercise depending on whether North Atlantic right whales have been acoustically detected or not.

Partners: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, US Coastguard

Funders: US Coastguard

Mapping Atlantic cod spawning grounds

Tagged Cod
Real Time Mooring

Region: Massachusetts Bay

Aims: Our passive acoustic work complements acoustic tagging work done by Massachusetts Department of Marine Fisheries (MASS DMF) who place tags in individual cod. These tags send high frequency acoustic pings and are heard by bottom-mounted receivers each time a tagged cod passes through the area. We are using bottom-mounted passive acoustic recorders to listen for and to define the seasonal extent of the spawning season. In addition, electrical gliders will follow line transects through the area listening both for the presence of cod spawning grunts and acoustic pings from tagged cod.

Partners: : MASS Department of Marine Fisheries, SMAST, TNC, NOAA Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Funders: NMFS Co-operative Research Grant, NOAA Saltonstall-Kennedy

Archival long term passive acoustic monitoring for baleen and odontocete whales

Map of Data Recordings
MARU locations along Georges Bank, 2014
(Map layers: Mike Thompson, NOAA/SBNMS)

Region: Georges Bank, Gulf of Maine, Mid Atlantic, Southeast US

Aims: We will focus on collecting long term seasonal occurrence data for baleen whales and odontocetes throughout key areas on the shelf, as well as on the shelf break. A variety of bottom mounted recorders will be used depending on the objective (i.e. low or high frequency monitoring or both). On the shelf, we will focus on baleen whale presence and their distance from shore while migrating. Off the shelf, we will focus on occurrence of sperm and beaked whales primarily as well as baleen whales and other odontocete species.

(Cornell U.)

Partners: Cornell University, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, JASCO Ltd

Funders: BOEM, US Navy N45

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