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Arctic Whale Ecology Study October 2014 Quarterly Report

December 06, 2014

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 quarterly report covers the period of this study from July through September 2014.

The major activities during the third quarter of 2014 consisted of planning and beginning 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 is due to return to Dutch Harbor, AK on 20 October. Twenty-one scientists, technicians, and observers from nine different laboratories and institutions participated on the ARCWEST cruise.