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whale seasonal distribution in the Gulf of Alaska

Subject: whale seasonal distribution in the Gulf of Alaska
From: Dave Mellinger <>
Date: Wed, 05 Dec 2007 08:12:19 -0800
The following paper has just been published:

Stafford, K.M., D.K. Mellinger, S.E. Moore, and C.G. Fox. 2007. Seasonal 
variability and detection range modeling of baleen whale calls in the Gulf of 
Alaska, 1999-2002. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 122:3378-3390.

Five species of large whales, including the blue (Balaenoptera musculus), fin (B. 
physalus), sei (B. borealis), humpback (Megaptera novaeangliae), and North Pacific 
right (Eubalaena japonica), were the target of commercial harvests in the Gulf of 
Alaska (GoA) during the 19th through mid-20th Centuries. Since this time, there have 
been a few summertime visual surveys for these species, but no overview of year-round 
use of these waters by endangered whales primarily because standard visual survey data 
are difficult and costly. From October 1999-May 2002, moored hydrophones were deployed 
in six locations in the GoA to record whale calls. Reception of calls from fin, 
humpback, and blue whales and an unknown source, called Watkins’ whale, showed 
seasonal and geographic variation. Calls were detected more often during the winter 
than during the summer, suggesting that animals inhabit the GoA year-round. To 
estimate the distance at which species-diagnostic calls could be heard, par
abolic equation propagation loss models for frequencies characteristic of each 
of each call type were run. Maximum detection ranges in the subarctic North 
Pacific ranged from 45 to 250 km among three species (fin, humpback, blue), 
although modeled detection ranges varied greatly with input parameters and 
choice of ambient noise level.

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