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Assessing Cetacean Populations in the Mariana Archipelago: A Summary of Data and Analyses from 2010-2019

September 21, 2020

This report summarizes the surveys, data collection, and analyses conducted by PIFSC for cetaceans within the Mariana Archipelago to evaluate the current state of the data with respect to the overall goal of cetacean population assessment.

The Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center (PIFSC) Cetacean Research Program has conducted research on cetaceans in the Mariana Archipelago since 2010.

A cooperative effort with funding from U.S. Navy Pacific Feet and PIFSC has included summer and winter small-boat surveys off the southernmost islands (Saipan, Tinian, Aguijan, Rota, and Guam); shipboard visual and passive acoustic surveys in portions of the EEZ in 2010, 2015, and 2018; development of photo-identification catalogs; and analyses of collected tissue samples and satellite telemetry tag data.

PIFSC has also carried out long-term passive acoustic monitoring on moored recorders off Saipan and Tinian (since 2010) and off Pagan (since 2015) as part of the Pacific Islands Passive Acoustic Network (PIPAN) and deployed drifting acoustic recorders for examination of beaked whale and other cetacean distribution during the 2018 shipboard survey.

The goal of these efforts has been to collect the data necessary to conduct the first population assessments for cetaceans within the Mariana Archipelago, including the determination of their occurrence, population structure and abundance, movements, distribution, and habitat use.

In addition, these data may be used to evaluate the potential exposure of cetaceans to human-caused stressors within the waters surrounding the Mariana Archipelago including U.S. Navy operations (e.g., sonar, use of explosives), fisheries interactions, and dolphin tourism.

Hill MC, Oleson EM, Bradford AL, Martien KK, Steel D, Baker CS. 2020. Assessing cetacean populations in the Mariana Archipelago: A summary of data and analyses arising from Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center surveys from 2010-2019. U.S. Dept. of Commerce, NOAA Technical Memorandum NOAA-TM-NMFS-PIFSC-108, 98 p.  https://doi.org/10.25923/wrye-6h14.

Last updated by Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center on 12/08/2021