Reference Document Home | Publications Home

Northeast Fisheries Science Center Reference Document 07-18

North Atlantic Right Whale Sighting Survey (NARWSS) and Right Whale Sighting Advisory System (RWSAS) Results Summaries for the Years 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, & 2006

Misty Niemeyer, Compiler; contributing authors (alphabetical by last name):Timothy V.N. Cole, Cynthia L. Christman, Peter Duley, Allison Glass, Kelly Houle, Misty Nelson, Misty Niemeyer, Liz Pomfret, Brenda K. Rone, & Alison Stimpert
National Marine Fisheries Serv., Woods Hole Lab., 166 Water St., Woods Hole, MA 02543

Web version posted November 15, 2007

Citation: NIEMEYER M, Compiler; COLE TVN, CHRISTMAN CL, DULEY P, GLASS A, HOULE K, NELSON M, NIEMEYER M, POMFRET L, RONE BK, STIMPERT A, contributing authors. 2007. North Atlantic Right Whale Sighting Survey (NARWSS) and Right Whale Sighting Advisory System (RWSAS) results summaries for the years 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, & 2006. NEFSC Ref Doc 07-18; 27 p.

Information Quality Act Compliance: In accordance with section 515 of Public Law 106-554, the Northeast Fisheries Science Center completed both technical and policy reviews for this report. These predissemination reviews are on file at the NEFSC Editorial Office.

Acrobat Download complete PDF/print version

Editorial Office Note: Each volume is part of a larger document containing five separate results summaries for five separate years. There is no analysis across the years included in this volume. This is the first publication of the collected data; future reports will be published annually in separate volumes.

Part A: 2002 Results Summary (CRD 07-18a) HTML PDF
Citation: Cole TVN, Stimpert A, Pomfret L, Houle K, Niemeyer M. 2007. North Atlantic Right Whale Sighting Survey (NARWSS) and Right Whale Sighting Advisory System (RWSAS) 2002 results summary. US Dept Commer, Northeast Fish Sci Cent Ref Doc. 07-18a; 6 p.
Part B: 2003 Results Summary (CRD 07-18b) HTML PDF

Citation: Rone BK, Cole TV, Duley P, Nelson M, Niemeyer M. 2007. North Atlantic Right Whale Sighting Survey (NARWSS) and Right Whale Sighting Advisory System (RWSAS) 2003 results summary. US Dept Commer, Northeast Fish Sci Cent Ref Doc. 07-18b; 5 p.

Part C: 2004 Results Summary (CRD 07-18c) HTML PDF
Citation: Rone BK, Cole TVN, Duley P, Nelson M, Niemeyer M. 2007. North Atlantic Right Whale Sighting Survey (NARWSS) and Right Whale Sighting Advisory System (RW-SAS) 2004 results summary. US Dept Commer, Northeast Fish Sci Cent Ref Doc. 07-18c; 5 p.
Part D: 2005 Results Summary (CRD 07-18d) HTML PDF
Citation: Niemeyer M, Cole TVN, Christman CL, Duley P, Nelson M, Rone B. 2007. North Atlantic Right Whale Sighting Survey (NARWSS) and Right Whale Sighting Advisory System (RWSAS) 2005 results summary. US Dept Commer, Northeast Fish Sci Cent Ref Doc. 07-18d; 5 p.
Part E: 2006 Results Summary (CRD 07-18e) HTML PDF
Citation: Niemeyer M, Cole TVN, Christman CL, Duley P, Glass A, Nelson M. 2007. North Atlantic Right Whale Sighting Survey (NARWSS) and Right Whale Sighting Advisory System (RWSAS) 2006 results summary. US Dept Commer, Northeast Fish Sci Cent Ref Doc. 07-18e; 6 p.


A. North Atlantic Right Whale Sighting Survey (NARWSS)
and Right Whale Sighting Advisory System (RWSAS)
2002 Results Summary (CRD 07-18a)

By Timothy V.N. Cole, Alison Stimpert, Liz Pomfret, Kelly Houle, and Misty Niemeyer

Click here for PDF/print version

OVERVIEW – The North Atlantic Right Whale Sighting Survey (NARWSS) is a NOAA Fisheries program which locates and records the seasonal distribution of right whales off the northeastern United States.  The Right Whale Sighting Advisory System (RWSAS) is designed to reduce collisions between ships and right whales by alerting mariners to the presence of the right whales via fax, email, the Internet, Broadcast Notice to Mariners (BNM), NOAA Weather Radio, and the Mandatory Ship Reporting system (MSR).   These reports are obtained from a variety of sources including the NARWSS, whale watch vessels, Coast Guard, fishing vessels, commercial ships, and the general public.  The results from both the NARWSS and the RWSAS programs in 2002 are summarized in the following tables and figures.

Table 1 – This table provides information on: (a) the total number of the NARWSS flight hours accomplished in each month during 2002; (b) the number of the NARWSS flights conducted in each month, by survey type; and (c) the total number of right whales sighted on all the NARWSS flights during each month in 2002. There were three primary types of surveys flown: (1) broadscale; (2) focused surveys in the Great South Channel (GSC) region; and (3) focused surveys over potential and realized Dynamic Area Management (DAM) closure zones.  Broadscale surveys were flown along systematic east-west track lines that covered all Federal waters west of the Hague Line, from south of Long Island, New York, to Eastport, Maine.  These surveys were flown to obtain a synoptic view of the distribution of right whales off the northeastern Atlantic coast; a completed series indicates coverage of the entire area.  Surveys focused in the GSC served the dual purpose of providing commercial shipping traffic with the current locations of right whale aggregations, and obtaining photographic data of individual right whales for use in vital rate models of the population.  DAM confirmation flights included flights made to investigate reported sightings of right whale aggregations outside existing closures, as well as to monitor the duration of residence of aggregations within established DAM zones.

Figure 1 – This figure shows, by season, all the NARWSS survey track lines and right whale sighting locations in 2002.  Seasonal right whale closure areas in effect during each period are shown as heavy bold lines.  Closure areas in effect for only a portion of the period are represented by medium bold lines.  The duration of each closure area is as follows:  Cape Cod Bay: Jan 1 - May 15; Great South Channel: April 1 - June 30; Seasonal Area Management (SAM) West: March 1 - April 30; Seasonal Area Management (SAM) East: May 1 - July 31.

Figure 2 – Presents a synopsis of the systematic broadscale surveys conducted during both the spring and fall of 2002.  The data were grouped by ten-minute latitude by ten-minute longitude geographic cells.  Effort levels within each cell were ranked according to the nautical miles of surveys completed within them, excluding circling.  Cells with higher effort levels were shaded more darkly, while areas with no effort were left blank.  To make sighting levels between cells with different effort levels comparable, the number of right whales sighted within a cell was divided by the nautical miles of survey completed in the same cell.  The resulting Sighting Per Unit Effort (SPUE) within each cell was then ranked, with higher SPUE levels indicated by darker shading.  Seasonal right whale closure areas in effect during each period are shown as heavy bold lines.  Closure areas in effect for only a portion of the period are represented by medium bold lines.

Table 2 – This table lists the number of right whale sightings reported to the RWSAS in 2002, by reporting source, and indicates the number of unconfirmed and late reports by source.  Unconfirmed and late reports did not produce an alert.  Often sightings were combined into a single alert.  A total of 110 alerts were broadcast in 2002.

Figure 3a (left side of Figure 3) – This figure depicts the total number of right whale sightings reported to the RWSAS in 2002, by month and source, in the Northeast (i.e., from Maine through New York) and Canada region. 
Figure 3b (right side of Figure 3) – This figure depicts the total number of right whale sightings reported to the RWSAS in 2002, by month and source, in the Mid-Atlantic region (i.e., from New Jersey through North Carolina).

Figure 4 – This figure illustrates the locations of all right whale sightings reported to the RWSAS in 2002 in the Northeast and Canada region (including unconfirmed and late reports).  The number of whales reported in each sighting is indicated via graduated symbols for each reporting source.  Shipping lanes, the Hague Line and the Cape Cod Bay and Great South Channel Critical Habitat areas are included for reference, as are the 50-fathom and 100-fathom depth contours.
B.  North Atlantic Right Whale Sighting Survey (NARWSS)
and Right Whale Sighting Advisory System (RWSAS)
2003 Results Summary (CRD 07-18b)

by Brenda K. Rone, Timothy V.N. Cole, Peter Duley and Misty Nelson

Click here for PDF/print version

OVERVIEW – The North Atlantic Right Whale Sighting Survey (NARWSS) is a NOAA Fisheries program which locates and records the seasonal distribution of right whales off the northeastern United States.  The Right Whale Sighting Advisory System (RWSAS) is designed to reduce collisions between ships and right whales by alerting mariners to the presence of the right whales via fax, email, the Internet, Broadcast Notice to Mariners (BNM), NOAA Weather Radio, and the Mandatory Ship Reporting system (MSR).   These reports are obtained from a variety of sources including the NARWSS, whale watch vessels, Coast Guard, fishing vessels, commercial ships, and the general public.  The results from both the NARWSS and the RWSAS programs in 2003 are summarized in the following tables and figures.

Table 1 – This table provides information on: (a) the total number of the NARWSS flight hours accomplished in each month during 2003; (b) the number of the NARWSS flights conducted in each month, by survey type; and (c) the total number of right whales sighted on all the NARWSS flights during each month in 2003. There were three primary types of surveys flown: (1) broadscale; (2) focused surveys in the Great South Channel (GSC) region; and (3) focused surveys over potential and realized Dynamic Area Management (DAM) closure zones.  Broadscale surveys were flown along systematic east-west track lines that covered all Federal waters west of the Hague Line, from south of Long Island, New York, to Eastport, Maine.  These surveys were flown to obtain a synoptic view of the distribution of right whales off the northeastern Atlantic coast; a completed series indicates coverage of the entire area.  Surveys focused in the GSC served the dual purpose of providing commercial shipping traffic with the current locations of right whale aggregations, and obtaining photographic data of individual right whales for use in vital rate models of the population.  DAM confirmation flights included flights made to investigate reported sightings of right whale aggregations outside existing closures, as well as to monitor the duration of residence of aggregations within established DAM zones.

Figure 1 – This figure shows, by season, all the NARWSS survey track lines and right whale sighting locations in 2003.  Seasonal right whale closure areas in effect during each period are shown as bold lines.  The duration of each closure area is as follows:  Cape Cod Bay: Jan 1 - May 15; Great South Channel: April 1 - June 30; Seasonal Area Management (SAM) West: March 1 - April 30; Seasonal Area Management (SAM) East: May 1 - July 31.

Table 2 – This table lists the number of right whale sightings reported to the RWSAS in 2003, by reporting source, and indicates the number of unconfirmed and late reports by source.  Unconfirmed reports did not produce an alert.  Late reports generated an alert when it was likely that the reported location would continue to be occupied by right whales.  Often sightings were combined into a single alert.  A total of 134 alerts were broadcast to mariners in 2003.

Figure 2a (left side of Figure 2) – This figure depicts the total number of right whale sightings reported to the RWSAS in 2003, by month and source, in the Northeast (i.e., from Maine through New York) and Canada region. 
Figure 2b (right side of Figure 2) – This figure depicts the total number of right whale sightings reported to the RWSAS in 2003, by month and source, in the Mid-Atlantic region (i.e., from New Jersey through North Carolina).

Figure 3 – This figure illustrates the locations of all right whale sightings reported to the RWSAS in 2003 in the Northeast and Canada region (excluding unconfirmed reports).  The number of whales reported in each sighting is indicated via graduated symbols for each reporting source.  Shipping lanes, the Hague Line and the Cape Cod Bay and Great South Channel Critical Habitat areas are included for reference.


C.  North Atlantic Right Whale Sighting Survey (NARWSS)
and Right Whale Sighting Advisory System (RWSAS)
2004 Results Summary (CRD 07-18c)

by Brenda K. Rone, Timothy V.N. Cole, Peter Duley, Misty Nelson, and Misty Niemeyer

Click here for PDF/print version

OVERVIEW – The North Atlantic Right Whale Sighting Survey (NARWSS) is a NOAA Fisheries program which locates and records the seasonal distribution of right whales off the northeastern United States.  The Right Whale Sighting Advisory System (RWSAS) is designed to reduce collisions between ships and right whales by alerting mariners to the presence of the right whales via fax, email, the Internet, Broadcast Notice to Mariners (BNM), NOAA Weather Radio, and the Mandatory Ship Reporting system (MSR).   These reports are obtained from a variety of sources including the NARWSS, whale watch vessels, Coast Guard, fishing vessels, commercial ships, and the general public.  The results from both the NARWSS and the RWSAS programs in 2004 are summarized in the following tables and figures.

Table 1 – This table provides information on: (a) the total number of the NARWSS flight hours accomplished in each month during 2004; (b) the number of the NARWSS flights conducted in each month by survey type; and (c) the total number of right whales sighted on all the NARWSS flights during each month in 2004.  There were four primary types of surveys flown: (1) broadscale; (2) focused surveys in the Great South Channel (GSC) Critical Habitat; (3) focused surveys over potential and realized Dynamic Area Management (DAM) closure zones; and (4) focused surveys in a designated Navy bombing range referred to as W-104B.  Broadscale surveys were flown along systematic east-west track lines that covered all Federal waters west of the Hague Line from south of Long Island, New York, to Eastport, Maine.  These surveys were flown to provide a synoptic view of the distribution of right whales off the northeastern Atlantic coast; a completed series indicates coverage of the entire area.  Surveys focused in the GSC served the dual purpose of providing commercial shipping traffic with the current locations of right whale aggregations, and obtaining photographic data of individual right whales for use in vital rate models of the population.  DAM confirmation flights included flights made to investigate reported sightings of right whale aggregations outside existing closures, as well as monitor the duration of residence of aggregations within established DAM zones.  Focused surveys in W-104B were conducted by the NARWSS in cooperation with the Navy prior to scheduled bombing exercises to determine the presence or absence of marine mammals and sea turtles.  Additional focused flights not categorized in the table were flights to relocate reported whale carcasses or to confirm reported right whale sightings in Nantucket Sound and New York Harbor.

Figure 1 – This figure shows, by season, all the NARWSS survey track lines and right whale sighting locations for 2004.  Seasonal right whale closure areas in effect during each period are shown as bold lines.  The duration for each closure area is as follows:  Cape Cod Bay: Jan 1 - May 15; Great South Channel: April 1 - June 30; Seasonal Area Management (SAM) West: March 1 - April 30; Seasonal Area Management (SAM) East: May 1 - July 31.

Table 2 – This table lists the number of right whale sightings reported to the RWSAS in 2004, by reporting source, and indicates the number of unconfirmed and late reports by source.  Unconfirmed reports did not produce an alert.  Late reports generated an alert if it was likely the location would continue to be occupied by right whales.  Often sightings were combined into a single alert.  A total of 113 alerts were broadcast in 2004.

Figure 2a (left side of Figure 2) – This figure depicts the total number of right whale sightings reported to the RWSAS in 2004, by month and source, in the Northeast (i.e., from Maine through New York) and Canada region.
Figure 2b (right side of Figure 2) – This figure depicts the total number of right whale sightings reported to the RWSAS in 2004, by month and source, in the Mid-Atlantic region (i.e., from New Jersey through North Carolina).

Figure 3 – This figure illustrates the locations of all right whale sightings reported to the RWSAS in 2004 in the Northeast and Canada region (excluding unconfirmed reports).  The number of whales reported in each sighting is indicated via graduated symbols for each reporting source.  Shipping lanes, the Hague Line and the Cape Cod Bay and Great South Channel Critical Habitat areas are included for reference.


D. North Atlantic Right Whale Sighting Survey (NARWSS)
and Right Whale Sighting Advisory System (RWSAS)
2005 Results Summary (CRD 07-18d)

by Misty Niemeyer, Timothy V.N. Cole, Cynthia L. Christman, Peter Duley, Misty Nelson, and Brenda Rone

Click here for PDF/print version

OVERVIEW – The North Atlantic Right Whale Sighting Survey (NARWSS) is a NOAA Fisheries program which locates and records the seasonal distribution of right whales off the northeastern United States.  The Right Whale Sighting Advisory System (RWSAS) is designed to reduce collisions between ships and right whales by alerting mariners to the presence of the right whales via fax, email, the Internet, Broadcast Notice to Mariners (BNM), NOAA Weather Radio, and the Mandatory Ship Reporting system (MSR).   These reports are obtained from a variety of sources including the NARWSS, whale watch vessels, Coast Guard, fishing vessels, commercial ships, and the general public.  The results from both the NARWSS and the RWSAS programs in 2005 are summarized in the following tables and figures.

Table 1 – This table provides information on: (a) the total number of the NARWSS flight hours accomplished in each month during 2005; (b) the number of the NARWSS flights conducted in each month by survey type; and (c) the total number of right whales sighted on all the NARWSS flights during each month in 2005.  There were four primary types of surveys flown: (1) broadscale; (2) focused surveys in the Great South Channel (GSC) Critical Habitat; (3) focused surveys over potential and realized Dynamic Area Management (DAM) closure zones; and (4) focused surveys in a designated Navy bombing range referred to as W-104B.  Broadscale surveys were flown along systematic east-west track lines that covered all Federal waters west of the Hague Line from south of Long Island, New York, to Eastport, Maine.  These surveys were flown to provide a synoptic view of the distribution of right whales off the northeastern Atlantic coast; a completed series indicates coverage of the entire area.  Surveys focused in the GSC served the dual purpose of providing commercial shipping traffic with the current locations of right whale aggregations, and obtaining photographic data of individual right whales for use in vital rate models of the population.  DAM confirmation flights included flights made to investigate reported sightings of right whale aggregations outside existing closures, as well as monitor the duration of residence of aggregations within established DAM zones.  Focused surveys in W-104B were conducted by the NARWSS in cooperation with the Navy prior to scheduled bombing exercises to determine the presence or absence of marine mammals and sea turtles.  Additional focused flights not categorized in the table were flights to relocate reported whale carcasses or to confirm reported right whale sightings in Nantucket Sound and New York Harbor.

Figure 1 – This figure shows, by season, all the NARWSS survey track lines and right whale sighting locations for 2005.  Seasonal right whale closure areas in effect during each period are shown as bold lines.  The duration for each closure area is as follows:  Cape Cod Bay: Jan 1 - May 15; Great South Channel: April 1 - June 30; Seasonal Area Management (SAM) West: March 1 - April 30; Seasonal Area Management (SAM) East: May 1 - July 31.

Table 2 – This table lists the number of right whale sightings reported to the RWSAS in 2005, by reporting source, and indicates the number of unconfirmed and late reports by source.  Unconfirmed reports did not produce an alert.   Reports of 1-2 right whales were not broadcast if the report was received more than one day after the sighting.  Late reports of greater than 2 whales did generate an alert since it was likely the location would continue to be occupied by right whales.  Often sightings were combined into a single alert.  A total of 107 alerts were broadcast in 2005.

Figure 2a (left side of Figure 2) – This figure depicts the total number of right whale sightings reported to the RWSAS in 2005, by month and source, in the Northeast (i.e., from Maine through New York) and Canada region.
Figure 2b (right side of Figure 2) – This figure depicts the total number of right whale sightings reported to the RWSAS in 2005, by month and source, in the Mid-Atlantic region (i.e., from New Jersey through North Carolina).

Figure 3 – This figure illustrates the locations of all right whale sightings reported to the RWSAS in 2005 in the Northeast and Canada region (excluding unconfirmed reports).  The number of whales reported in each sighting is indicated via graduated symbols for each reporting source.  Shipping lanes, the Hague Line and the Cape Cod Bay and Great South Channel Critical Habitat areas are included for reference.


E. North Atlantic Right Whale Sighting Survey (NARWSS)
and Right Whale Sighting Advisory System (RWSAS)
2006 Results Summary (CRD 07-18e)

by Misty Niemeyer, Timothy V.N. Cole, Cynthia L. Christman, Peter Duley, Allison Glass, and Misty Nelson

Click here for PDF/print version

OVERVIEW – The North Atlantic Right Whale Sighting Survey (NARWSS) is a NOAA Fisheries program which locates and records the seasonal distribution of right whales off the northeastern United States.  The Right Whale Sighting Advisory System (RWSAS) is designed to reduce collisions between ships and right whales by alerting mariners to the presence of the right whales via fax, email, the Internet, Broadcast Notice to Mariners (BNM), NOAA Weather Radio, and the Mandatory Ship Reporting system (MSR).   These reports are obtained from a variety of sources including the NARWSS, whale research organizations, whale watch vessels, Coast Guard, fishing vessels, commercial ships, and the general public.  The results from both the NARWSS and the RWSAS programs in 2006 are summarized in the following tables and figures.

Table 1 – This table provides information on: (a) the total number of the NARWSS flight hours accomplished in each month during 2006; (b) the number of the NARWSS flights conducted in each month by survey type; and (c) the total number of right whales sighted on all the NARWSS flights during each month in 2006.  There were four primary types of surveys flown: (1) broadscale; (2) focused surveys in the Great South Channel (GSC) Critical Habitat; (3) focused surveys over potential and realized Dynamic Area Management (DAM) closure zones; and (4) focused surveys in a designated Navy bombing range referred to as W-104B.  Broadscale surveys were flown along systematic east-west track lines that covered all Federal waters west of the Hague Line from south of Long Island, New York, to Eastport, Maine.  These surveys were flown to provide a synoptic view of the distribution of right whales off the northeastern Atlantic coast; a completed series indicates coverage of the entire area.  Surveys focused in the GSC served the dual purpose of providing commercial shipping traffic with the current locations of right whale aggregations, and obtaining photographic data of individual right whales for use in vital rate models of the population.  DAM confirmation flights included flights made to investigate reported sightings of right whale aggregations outside existing closures, as well as monitor the duration of residence of aggregations within established DAM zones.  Focused surveys in W-104B were conducted by the NARWSS in cooperation with the Navy prior to scheduled bombing exercises to determine the presence or absence of marine mammals and sea turtles.  Additional focused flights not categorized in the table were flights to relocate reported whale carcasses or entangled whales as well as provide support for disentanglement efforts.

Figure 1 – This figure shows, by season, all the NARWSS survey track lines and right whale sighting locations for 2006.  Seasonal right whale closure areas in effect during each period are shown as bold lines.  The duration for each closure area is as follows:  Cape Cod Bay: Jan 1 - May 15; Great South Channel: April 1 - June 30; Seasonal Area Management (SAM) West: March 1 - April 30; Seasonal Area Management (SAM) East: May 1 - July 31.

Table 2 – This table lists the number of right whale sightings reported to the RWSAS in 2006, by reporting source, and indicates the number of unconfirmed and late reports by source.  Unconfirmed reports and duplicate reports did not produce an alert.   Reports of 1-2 right whales were not broadcast if the report was received more than one day after the sighting.  Late reports of greater than 2 whales did generate an alert since it was likely the location would continue to be occupied by right whales.  Often sightings were combined into a single alert.  A total of 101 alerts were broadcast in 2006.

Figure 2a (left side of Figure 2) – This figure depicts the total number of right whale sightings reported to the RWSAS in 2006, by month and source, in the Northeast region (i.e., from Maine through New York).
Figure 2b (middle of Figure 2) – This figure depicts the total number of right whale sightings reported to the RWSAS in 2006, by month and source, in the Mid-Atlantic region (i.e., from New Jersey through North Carolina).
Figure 2c (right side of Figure 2) – This figure depicts the total number of right whale sightings reported to the RWSAS in 2006, by month and source, in the Canada region.

Figure 3 – This figure illustrates the locations of all right whale sightings reported to the RWSAS in 2006 in the Northeast and Canada region (excluding unconfirmed reports).  The number of whales reported in each sighting is indicated via graduated symbols for each reporting source.  Shipping lanes, the Hague Line and the Cape Cod Bay and Great South Channel Critical Habitat areas are included for reference.

Figure 4 – This figure illustrates the locations of all right whale sightings reported to the RWSAS in 2006 in the Mid-Atlantic region (excluding unconfirmed reports).  The number of whales reported in each sighting is indicated via graduated symbols for each reporting source.  The Hague Line is included for reference.

www.nefsc.noaa.gov
NMFS Search
Link Disclaimer
webMASTER
Privacy Policy
(File Modified Jul. 01 2016)

This page has had 2 visits today, 11 visits this week, 70 visits this month, 482 visits this year