Interactions Between Beluga Whales and Boats in Knik Arm, Upper Cook Inlet, Alaska: Behavior and Bioacoustics
Contract Report (NOAA Fisheries P.O. AKR-7-020) - Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute Technical Report 2012-380
The objectives of the behavioral studies were to: 1) document patterns of movement, associations with particular habitats, and behavior of undisturbed beluga whales when passing through and lingering in the narrow reach of LKA; 2) document patterns of boat movement and activity in the LKA; 3) document nominal interactions between boats and beluga whales in the LKA; 4) document the behavioral responses of whales in the LKA to the physical presence and associated noise of boats operating in and near the LKA; and 5) evaluate the potential effects of boat activity, boat noise, and proposed construction and operation of bridge crossing lower Knik on the use of marine habitats in upper Cook Inlet and Knik Arm by beluga whales. The objectives of pilot supplemental acoustic studies, in collaboration with Dr. Tomonari Akamatsu (Japan National Research Institute of Fisheries Engineering), were to: 1) estimate the number of beluga whales present in observed groups from detection of their vocalizations using a stereo hydrophone array and acoustic data loggers; and 2) estimate the distance to observed beluga whales from the observation boat by triangulating to sounds produced by phonating beluga whales.