Marine Mammal Commission

2016 Grant Awards

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Projects Funded by the Marine Mammal Commission in Fiscal Year 2016

Topic A: Research/Projects

Noise Field Characterization in the Habitat of the East Taiwan Strait Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphin during the Pile Driving Activity of Demonstration Offshore Wind Farm

Chen, C.

National Taiwan University

Characterize the sound field during demonstration pile driving and associated activities in the east Taiwan Strait Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin habitat, and identify dominant anthropogenic sound sources in the dolphin habitat during the construction of wind turbines. Implications of the sound field from wind turbine construction and associated activities in relation to humpback dolphins’ hearing and communication will be examined, including loss of communication space and masking. Link to final report.

Acoustic detection of North Pacific right whales combined with biophysical sampling using a Saildrone

Crance, J.

Marine Mammal Laboratory

Integrate an autonomous passive acoustic recorder into the keel of the Saildrone to monitor for the critically endangered North Pacific right whale. Passive acoustic data on marine mammal presence will be integrated with concurrent oceanographic and zooplankton data to better understand marine mammal habitat and ecological processes. See link to project report and link to publication.

Topic A: Research/Projects - Focal Area: Bycatch

Ropeless fishing: Testing an innovative prototype for preventing whale entanglements

Werner, T.

New England Aquarium

Evaluate the potential use of a rope-less fishing system for use in pot fisheries targeting crustaceans and benthic fishes. The performance of flotation spools will be evaluated under actual fishing conditions involving an offshore lobster pot vessel. Testing of this innovative prototype is being conducted to minimize and ideally prevent fatal entanglements of large whales.

A pilot study of alternative gears and fishing strategies that can limit Atlantic humpback dolphin (Sousa teuszii) bycatch in the Republic of Congo

Collins, T.

Wildlife Conservation Society

Identify and test artisanal fishing alternatives (gears and area/time exclusions) that could permanently reduce the bycatch risk for S. teuszii in Conkouati-Douli National Park.

Towards an effective bycatch mitigation strategy for Franciscana dolphins in Argentina

Bordino, P.

Fundación AquaMarina

Evaluate the use of pingers as a deterrent to reduce bycatch of Franciscana dolphins in artisanal fisheries in Argentina. Challenges and obstacles that need to be overcome for pingers to be adopted at a larger scale by artisanal gillnet fishermen in the region will be identified, and lessons will be provided to guide the potential adoption of pingers on other gillnet fisheries throughout the range of this species.

Topic A: Research/Projects - Focal Area: Cook Inlet Belugas

Improving our understanding of Cook Inlet beluga foraging occurrence

Castellote, M.

Marine Mammal Laboratory

Characterize beluga feeding echolocation characteristics to be used for the description of feeding occurrence in Cook Inlet. Feeding areas or feeding periods with high levels of anthropogenic noise will be identified in order to better understand the potential impact of human activities on a critical behavior (foraging) for the recovery and survival of the endangered Cook Inlet beluga.

See the link to publication. The final report is available from the Commission upon request.

Topic A: Research/Projects - Focal Area: Ice-Dependent Marine Mammals

Using Next Generation Sequencing technology to assess population structure in a highly abundant subspecies, the Arctic ringed seal (Phoca hispida hispida)

Lang, A.

Ocean Associates, Inc.

Evaluate the population structure of the Arctic subspecies of ringed seal in part to determine if listing Arctic ringed seals as threatened throughout their range was appropriate. Although sampling sites are limited to the Bering, Chukchi, and western Beaufort Seas, genetic analyses will advance understanding of population structure within the Arctic subspecies and thus of the vulnerability of ringed seals within these regions to localized depletion.

See link to publication.

Topic B: Conferences, Symposia, Workshops, Meetings, and Publications

Fourth International Conference on the Effects of Noise on Aquatic Life

Popper, A.

University of Maryland,
College Park

Support for the fourth International Conference on “The Effects of Noise on Aquatic Life,” convened in Dublin, Ireland, July 10-16, 2016. Funding helped bring students, younger faculty, representatives of third world countries, and a few key speakers to the meeting. Link to meeting proceedings.