Arctic Whale Ecology Study 2013 Cruise Plan
There are four objectives for this study:
- Estimate the spatial and temporal patterns of use of the Chukchi Sea by endangered bowhead, fin and humpback whales as well as gray, minke and beluga whales.
- Assess population structure and stocks of origin of these animals via genetic analysis of tissue biopsy samples and as appropriate, individual photo identification records.
- Evaluate ecological relationships for the species, including physical and biological oceanography
- Conduct physical and biological oceanographic sampling to further understand the transport and advection of krill and nutrients from the northern Bering Sea through the Bering Strait and to the Barrow Canyon.
These findings will be useful for formulating designs of mitigation for human activities in the region. In particular, these data will be used to support National Environmental Policy Act analysis and documentation for Chukchi Lease Sales, Draft Proposed Programs, and monitoring, as well as ESA consultations, Marine Mammal Protection Act permitting, and preparation of Biological Evaluations and Biological Opinions. The main components of this study include satellite tagging, passive acoustic recorder and oceanographic instrument deployments, as well as biophysical (CTD and plankton tow) stations. In addition, a passive acoustic survey (using sonobuoys) and visual observation survey will be undertaken during transit to and from the mooring sites.