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2024 Pacific Ocean Whale and Ecosystem Research Survey

January 30, 2024

Research Brief for 2024 Pacific Ocean Whale and Ecosystem Research (POWER) Survey from August 13 to September 26, 2024

What is the research objective?

The overall research objective is to conduct a visual line-transect survey for marine mammals to obtain information on the distribution and abundance of large whales in poorly studied areas. The specific objectives are:

  1. Visually survey for marine mammals along pre-determined tracklines
  2. Conduct independent double platform surveys to obtain g(0) estimates (the number of missed sightings) when possible
  3. Collect photo-ID photographs from target species
  4. Collect biopsy samples from high priority species when possible  
  5. Conduct real-time passive acoustic monitoring (i.e., listen for whales in real time) via sonobuoys, a free-floating hydrophone

Who is conducting the research?

Scientists from the Alaska Fisheries Science Center’s Marine Mammal Lab and the Northeast Fisheries Science Center and colleagues from the Institute of Cetacean Research in Japan, aboard the R/V Yūshin Maru 2.

Where is the research being conducted?

The survey will begin and end in Dutch Harbor, AK. The primary operating area includes the southern Chukchi Sea and the eastern Bering Sea shelf.

Why are the data important? How will data be used?

These data contribute to an ongoing 14-year research program dedicated to understanding and assessing marine mammal populations in areas that are poorly studied or little understood. The data collected during these surveys and the resulting information help determine population trends and stock structure, and distribution and abundance estimates. These results are used to inform stock assessment reports, management decisions, and to determine effectiveness of current conservation measures.

How do you plan to communicate research results? 

Given that the survey is an international collaboration, web stories will be published on both the NOAA Fisheries and the International Whaling Commission websites. A report of preliminary results will also be available after the survey end at the IWC website (iwc.int/power). With colleagues, results may be presented at conferences (e.g., Alaska Marine Science Symposium), symposiums, seminars, and research meetings. We can also give a webinar talk to share results with the residents of Alaska.

Last updated by Alaska Fisheries Science Center on 02/13/2024

Research in Alaska