2014 Arctic Whale Ecology Study Annual Report
Through an Inter-Agency agreement (IA) between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Marine Mammal Laboratory (NMML) and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), NMML is conducting a dedicated multi-year study to determine relationships between dominant currents passing from the Bering Sea into and through the Chukchi Sea and prey resources delivered to the Barrow Arch area (an area of high bowhead whale and prey concentrations between Wainwright and Smith Bay), and to provide information about the dynamic nature of those relationships relative to whale distribution and habitat utilization in the eastern Chukchi and extreme western Beaufort Seas. This study will also provide important baseline data on the occurrence, distribution, and habitat use of large whales in an area that is subject to rapid change in climate and human industrial development. This annual report covers work conducted in 2014, the third year of the study.
The major activities during 2014 consisted of planning for and conducting the 2014 Arctic Whale Ecology Study (ARCWEST)/Chukchi Acoustics, Oceanography, and Zooplankton Study-extension (CHAOZ-X) cruise. The cruise took place and the chartered research vessel R/V Aquila, left Nome, AK on 7 September, and returned to Dutch Harbor, AK on 20 October. Twenty-one scientists, technicians, and observers from nine different laboratories and institutions participated on the ARCWEST/CHAOZ-X cruise. Also during 2014, analysis of data collected during the 2013 and 2014 ARCWEST cruises was begun.