Arctic Whale Ecology Study October 2015 Quarterly Report
Through an Inter-Agency agreement (IAA) 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 2015.
The major activities during the third quarter of 2015 consisted of planning and executing the 2015 Arctic Whale Ecology Study (ARCWEST)/Chukchi Acoustics, Oceanography, and Zooplankton Study: Hanna Shoal (Extension of CHAOZ, abbreviated CHAOZ-X) cruise, the processing and analysis of data collected during the 2013 and 2014 cruises. The cruise took place on the chartered research vessel F/V Aquila, left Nome, AK on 8 September, and returned to Dutch Harbor, AK on 28 September. Eleven scientists, technicians, and observers from six different laboratories and institutions participated on the ARCWEST cruise. Highlights of progress and results to date are listed below by objective, with additional details in the main body of the report.