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Mapping Oregon's Sound Sensitive Marine Mammals

Using minimally invasive passive acoustic monitoring technique to detect and localize cetaceans along the Oregon Coast.

The goals of this project are to use passive acoustic monitoring, visual line transects and oceanographic data collection in Newport, Oregon’s near shore waters to [A] study the temporal distribution, spatiotemporal scales of occurrence and movement patterns of marine mammals; [B] study physical, chemical and lower-trophic-level ecological drivers of these occurrence patterns, producing a quantitative model of occurrence; and [C] evaluate potential impacts of anthropogenic activities such as the development of wave energy converters on species of concern.

Project description

The eastern North Pacific is a species rich area with a total of 30 marine mammal species known to occur in Oregon and Washington waters. The seasonal abundance and distribution of marine mammals in Oregon’s near-shore waters is not well understood. So far, periodic marine mammal surveys off the Pacific Northwest coast have been restricted to late-summer and fall months with survey efforts in Oregon, typically lasting only a few weeks. Coverage of the winter and early spring months is lacking, as are year-round observations needed to establish seasonal distributions and migration patterns. Under the supervision of Dr. Holger Klinck and Dr. Leigh Torres of the Marine Mammal Institute M.S. graduate student Amanda Holdman will combine passive-acoustic and visual surveys, two methodologies with high spatial and temporal resolution, to effectively monitor marine mammals in Oregon’s near shore waters.

For marine mammals visual surveys alone are less comprehensive than a combined effort to simultaneously collect visual and acoustic data. The integration of visual and acoustic survey methods is advantageous in that it reduces methodology bias (i.e. acoustically detect subsurface animals, visually detect non-vocalizing animals), aids in species identification, and results in a more robust data set for analysis. In addition, the wave energy climate of the Pacific Northwest has high potential for commercial energy extraction. This project will provide needed information on marine mammal occurrence and movements and evaluate potential impacts from anthropogenic activities such as wind and wave energy converters.


Project members: 
Project Coordinator
Graduate Student
United States
Latitude: 44.632259
Longitude: -124.103452

Funding Source

CO-PIs: Joe Haxel (OSU & NOAA/PMEL) and Leigh Torres (OSU)
Partners: Sarah Henkel (OSU), Rob Suryan (OSU), Bill Peterson (NOAA/NWFSC), Jay Peterson (OSU)