Cetacean Visual and Acoustic Surveys


Cetacean annual and seasonal presence and daily patterns of vocalization behavior are assessed by visual data and acoustic instrumentation.


1. Visual and Acoustic Survey Overview

In April 2004, Scripps Whale Acoustic Lab added a visual and acoustic marine mammal survey component to the CalCOFI project to study cetacean ecology and habitat. Visual monitoring is conducted during quarterly cruises by personnel using handheld 7x binoculars. Supplementary Bigeyes (25x magnification) are used for species identification when necessary. Visual monitoring provides excellent data for highly visible species in calm to moderate weather. Concurrently, acoustic technicians survey with a towed hydrophone array during the transit between CalCOFI stations and with sonobuoys while on station, allowing collection of distribution data on vocal animals that may have been missed visually due to darkness, rough weather, distance from transect line, being underwater, or other reasons. Additionally, long-term acoustic monitoring is conducted at several CalCOFI stations using bottom-mounted, High-frequency Acoustic Recording Packages (HARPs). These data will provide information on the annual and seasonal presence of cetaceans, and may be used to evaluate daily patterns of vocalization behavior. By integrating CalCOFI environmental and cetacean data, we plan to develop ecological models for cetacean habitat in the region offshore of southern California and to improve our understanding of their role in the California Current ecosystem.

Equipment and instrumentation deployed for cetacean visual and acoustic surveys can be found on the Scripps Whale Acoustic Lab website at http://cetus.ucsd.edu/projects_CalCOFI.html and http://cetus.ucsd.edu/technologies_Main.html.

2. References

  • Soldevilla M.S., S.M Wiggins, J. Calambokidis, A. Douglas, E.M. Oleson, and J.A. Hildebrand. 2006. Marine mammal monitoring and habitat investigations during CalCOFI surveys. CalCOFI Report 47: 79-91.