Posters Zeezoogdierdagen

Haren, 10 februari 2018



1. Do harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) echolocate louder in a noisy environment?

Fadia Al Abbar, Rogier von Asmuth, Steve Geelhoed, Mardik Leopold, Geert Aarts.

Abstract: Harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) are elusive and difficult to visually study in the field; hence it is favourable that study methods are improved for a better understanding of the species. Passive acoustic devices such as Continuous POrpoise Detectors (C-PODs) are more commonly used for abundance estimates, yet there are limitations to its use as the number of porpoises, distance etc. cannot always be determined. Using passive acoustic methods simultaneous with visual observations has proven successful for abundance estimates. However, previous studies have not comprehensively studied the effect of certain covariates on the detectability of harbour porpoise click trains on C-PODs. Distance of detectability, for instance, is not automatically known, which may skew abundance estimates. This study shows that the furthest match (simultaneous click train to a surfacing 20 seconds before or after) reaches 539m, and that there is no decrease in matches with an increasing distance till the interval 500-600m. Significant covariates affecting the matches positively are foraging porpoises where the Directness Index is low, and the number of porpoises in a pod is high, however these results require some more research. Here, the result shows that the harbour porpoise click trains can be detected further than previously expected between 300-400m, which could indicate previous studies overestimated population density of harbour porpoises. It also confirms visually, that foraging, and more than two porpoises in the vicinity of the C-POD increase probability of detection. The method of combining photogrammetry with video recordings proves accuracy and more elaborate study potential of pods of harbour porpoises, rather than using theodolites.
Biography: I graduated from Wageningen University with the Msc. Marine resource management, specialized in ecology and cetaceans. I studied dolphins in New Zeealand and Malaysia, and harbor porpoises for my master thesis on Texel. My last marine mammal research trip was in Macaronesia, where I traveled for 4 months on a cargo ship from Portugal to; Cape Verde, The Canary Islands, Mauritania, Madeira, and the Azores as a Marine Mammal Observer. I then fell in love with the Azores and will return to the main island, Sao Miguel, as a Biologist and a guide starting mid- February, where I hope to set up a PhD.

2. Short-term effects of tourist boats on the behaviour of common dolphins (Delphinus delphis)

Verónica Belchior

Abstract: The short-term effects of tourist boats on the behaviour of common dolphins (Delphinus delphis) were investigated off the south coast of São Miguel, Açores (Portugal), identifying a school of dolphins and continually evaluating their behaviour (socializing, foraging, travelling, resting) in the presence (impact) and absence (control) of tourist boats. By using a time discrete, first order, Markov-chain model, the transition probabilities of changing from one behavioural state to another were calculated and compared between impact and control situations. The data were further used to construct behavioural budgets obtaining the proportion of time that the dolphin spend in each behavioural state. In the presence of tourist boats, dolphins were less likely to stay in a foraging activity and were more likely to start socializing, after foraging, as inferred from the Markov chain model. The behavioural budgets showed that foraging activity decreased significantly as an effect of tourist boat presence and that socializing activities increased. The impacts identified in this study demonstrate the need to adopt conservation measures, promoting a precautionary approach of dolphin tourism, until there are long-term impact studies.
Biography: I am Verónica Belchior and I have a bachelor degree in Biology by the University of Porto, Portugal. I have done an exchange program to the University of the Azores (São Miguel Island), which opened me the doors for the marine mammal world. Living and studying on an island was the point in my life where I truly understood my devotion for the seas. Since then, I have enrolled different types of projects related to it: volunteered as a marine mammal observer in a cargo ship, managed a nature conservation volunteering organization, among others. Another big passion of mine always has been to communicate science. That is why I currently work at Ciência Viva Science Centre - to engage with children in schools and give them the tools to become true science investigators of Nature. Discover to Protect!

3. Quantifying and comparing the social structure of island-associated bottlenose dolphins

Nathalie Houtman (supervisors: Phil Hammond and Luke Rendell)

Abstract: Although studies on the social structure of animals have provided us with important insights into the social organisation of a range of species, most of those studies have remained largely descriptive and explorative. The recent merging of traditional social structure methods with social network analysis allows researchers to study social structure in more depth through a quantitative approach and discover the driving forces behind social organisations. Studies on bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) revealed variation in the social structure within and between populations across habitats. However, the social networks of archipelago dwelling bottlenose dolphins remain largely unstudied and direct comparison of populations has proven challenging. Therefore, I propose to use a set of tools from animal social network analysis on two long-term datasets of photo-identified bottlenose dolphins from the Bahamas and Hawaii to quantify and compare their social structure. The identifications of social units could be used to inform conservation and management authorities. Additionally, the results should give a more complete image of the variation in social strategies of bottlenose dolphins. This picture would take us another step closer to link differences in social strategies to specific habitat characteristics and biological processes.
Biography: The proposed research is part of my second Master’s degree Marine Mammal Science at the University of St Andrews. I previously studied MSc Forest and Nature Conservation at Wageningen University and BSc Environmental Studies at Utrecht University. It was at the end of my Master’s in Wageningen that my became intrigued with marine mammals and I realised that I wanted to focus my future career on these extraordinary animals. Before I started my second Master’s I gained experience in data collection on cetaceans and public outreach during an internship at a whale watching company in the Azores and a voluntary research position at the Dutch Dolphinarium. Through funds from Prins Bernhard Cultuur fonds, Hendrik Muller Fonds and het Vreedefonds I was then able to enrol in my current programme. This is my first time at the Marine Mammal Days and I cannot wait to meet people who are enthusiastic and knowledgeable about marine mammals.

4. Comparison of plastic content in grey and harbour seals in the North Sea and Wadden Sea

Lucía Irazábal González

Abstract: Marine ecosystems have been affected by anthropogenic debris for a long time, but recently the increase of plastics has become an urgent concern. Plastics can stay in the water column for hundred and thousand years, and the plastic debris spread around the globe. During this time erosion and UV light decompose the plastic into smaller parts, transforming them from visible plastic pieces (macro-plastics > 20 mm in diameter) to micro-plastics (<5 mm in diameter). Entanglement and choking by ingestion are the two main problems animals have with macro- plastics. Micro-plastics, on the other hand enter the body more effectively by ingestion or absorption, and today appear in the system of many organism, including big predators. To document plastic accumulation in seals along the Dutch coast, I recorded the amount of micro-plastics in the digestive system in grey and harbour seals from the North and the Wadden Seas. I expected that bigger seals would have higher amounts of plastics in the system, due to higher intake rate. Stomachs and intestines were rinsed under running water and the content was washed to obtain clean samples. The results showed that 14 out of 54 individuals contained plastic, with a significantly higher amount in grey seals’ intestines compared to harbour seals’. Most of the micro-plastics found were of the fragmented type, suggesting that they could have come from bigger pieces of plastic. Size related analyses did not show the expected results as bigger seals had smaller plastic volume. Sample size was not big enough to ensure accurate relations between animal size and plastic volume. However, this was the first study comparing the plastic content in grey and harbour seals. The fact that the plastic incidence was significantly higher in grey seals than in harbour seals, makes them more likely to become a better monitoring species than the harbour seals for future studies of plastic accumulation in marine mammals.
Biography: I did my Masters in Marine Biology in the University of Groningen. This poster is part of my first master project, which I did in IMARES and the Sealcentre Pieterburen. I would like to continue in the marine research field, raising awareness about how the anthropological disturbances affect the marine ecosystems.

5. Phylogeography & evolutionary history of North-western Atlantic populations of harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena)

Róisín Loughnane

Abstract: There are three currently recognised sub-species & ecotypes of harbour porpoise in the North Atlantic; P. p.relicta in the Black Sea (BS), P. p. meriodonalis in the Upwelling (UP) zones of Iberia and Mauritania, & P. p. phocoena along the continental shelves of northern North Atlantic. Using a high resolution of mtDNA UP harbour porpoises were found to be as divergent to populations north of the Bay of Biscay as they are to the BS relict population which they have been separated from since the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) (Fontaine et al., 2014). It has been hypothesised that Northwest and Northeast Atlantic (NWA & NEA) populations originate from separate refuge populations that lived during the LGM and have evolved independently since (Gaskin, 1984). Transatlantic movements are thought to be rare with possible oceanographic barriers restricting movement across the mid-Atlantic (Rosel et al., 1999b).
Biography: I am currently coming to the end of my MSc in Marine Biology at the University of Groningen. The project I will present is the first research project of my MSc and I am just finishing the second research project which is about coral reef connectivity which I carried out at the University of Bristol, UK. I have been gaining many skills throughout these studies and am looking forward to applying them to conservation and more research questions upon graduating.

6. How vulnerable are harbour seal (Phoca vitulina) pups: a study on mother-pup interactions

Beatriz Rapado-Tamarit¹, Margarita Mendez-Arostegui¹, Ana Rubio-Garcia¹, A.G.G. Groothuis²

¹ Sealcentre Pieterburen, 9968 AG, the Netherlands; ² Groningen Institute for Evolutionary Life Sciences, University of Groningen

Abstract: As a rehabilitation centre for seals it is important to assess whether a pup that has lost contact with its mother is in need of help or can be taken care of and nursed by other females of the breeding colony in the Eems-Dollard estuary. During the breeding season of harbour seals (Phoca vitulina) on 2015 and 2016 in the Eems-Dollard estuary, the interaction between the mothers and their pups was studied. To observe and follow the behaviour of the female-pup pair, the seals were photo identified so they could be recognized from the distance. To collect proper data about the suckling and fostering behaviour of the female-pup pair focal sampling with continuous recording was performed. From a sample of 78 pups, only 57.7% was nursed by one female only but the rest were nursed at least by 2 to even 6 different females. A similar analysis was made from the females’ perspective, showing that only 43.1 % of them nursed one pup only. The remaining 56.9 % of the females nursed from 2 pups to a remarkable 18 different pups. Registration of pup deliveries where we could establish the biological mother of the pup with 100% certainty could corroborate these results. These findings might help us to obtain a better insight into the mothering behaviour of harbour seals in the Wadden Sea and its consequences for theirpups’ survival. It may also provide a sound basis for the development of accurate protocols for rescuing seal pups. Currently data on competition among peers for suckling and rejection rates of females are being analysed.
Biography: I work at the Sealcentre Pieterburen. Here I am one of the researchers and also a coordinator of the seal care department. As a researcher I study the interactions between the harbour seal females and their pups. In the seal care department, I am a seal nurse as well as one of the coordinators. I take care of the animals but also, I make sure that the working floor is organized and working smoothly.

7. Biopsy Sampling Flipper Tag Test In Harbor Seal (Phoca vitulina)

Ana Rubio-Garcia¹*, Abbo van Neer², Alberto Arriba-Garcia¹, Stephanie Gross¹², Anna Salazar-Casals¹ and Ursula Siebert²

¹ Sealcentre Pieterburen, Hoofdstraat 94a, 9968 AG Pieterburen, The Netherlands; ² Institute for Terrestrial and Aquatic Wildlife Research (ITAW), University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Werftstr. 6, 25761 Büsum, Germany

Abstract: Marking of animals for re-identification purposes is a standard tool in ecology in order to assess home range, migration, population development amongst a broad range of other research questions, and is a common practice in the study of pinnipeds. Also in rehabilitation centers, conventional livestock ear tags are used for identification purposes. The main goals are to identify and distinguish each animal during rehabilitation, and to visually re-identify the released animal easily from a distance based on the imprinted number and color of the tags. In the light of animal welfare and practicability used tagging techniques have been assessed. When working with live animals, especially when using invasive methods, the main goal besides reducing the impact on the animal to the lowest possible level, should be to gain a maximum of information. The possibilities of using biopsy samples have been continuously increasing over the last years. E.g. information on genetics, infectious diseases, immune status, pollution levels of fatty acids, or stable isotopes can be extracted from these samples. In order to increase the gain of knowledge we assessed a new type of flipper tag, which simultaneously takes a skin biopsy sample from the marked animal. The new tags were assessed in light of animal welfare and practicability in harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) under rehabilitation in the Sealcentre Pieterburen (the Netherlands), in order to assess the safety of the new tags to be used in free-ranging seals. In total 12 harbor seals were tagged with “LabTag Boss 3” cattle ear tags to assess under veterinary supervision applicability and wound healing of this tag type for future use. These tags combine conventional ear tags (GEPE Q-flex®) with the “Geno Tissue Sampling System” by “Caisly Eartag Limited” which allows taking a biopsy sample while marking an animal. Seals were tagged at arrival at the Sealcentre Pieterburen during the routine admission exam. The tags were applied in the right hind flipper, in the interdigital web between toe 2 and 3. In order to monitor the development of the tag wounds, regular veterinary checkups and photos were done systematically during rehabilitation. The presented study results show that the use of biopsy flipper tags in seals has no adverse medical impact on the animals and even is of advantage as the tissue is cut rather than separated by a thorn. This cheap and relatively little invasive method can be safely used even in long-term studies and has the important advantage of gaining additional information on wild species.
Biography: I am a Spanish veterinarian working in the Zeehondencentrum Pieterburen since 2009. Currently I combine my clinical work in the centre with a PhD on seal bacteriology and antimicrobial resistance. Improving and minimising the impact of seal rehabilitation in the environment is one of my goals.

8. Haematology and Serum Biochemistry of Harbour Seal (Phoca vitulina) Pups after Rehabilitation in the Netherlands

Salazar-Casals A, Rubio-Garcia A, Arriba-Garcia A, O’Connor J, Mignucci-Giannoni A

Abstract: Haematology and serum biochemistry are techniques used to determine the health status of animals ongoing rehabilitation at the Sealcentre Pieterburen. This project was developed to determine the normal haematology and biochemistry values for pups of the common seal (Phoca vitulina) at the moment of the release. All the animals stranded along the coast of the Dutch Wadden Sea and were admitted to rehabilitation during the months of May and June 2016. We evaluated 22 different blood values in 60 different animals. The aim was to test for differences due to sex, geographic location, and presence or absence of umbilical cord; and to develop reference ranges. A comparison between the values used at the centre and the values established by this study was made. Red blood cell distribution width (p=0.017), mean platelet volume (p=0.002), alkaline phosphatase (p=0.023), total protein (p=0.006), and glutamate pyruvate transaminase (p=0.006) differed significantly between males and females. White blood cells and lymphocytes ranges were lower compared to the ranges used at the centre. ALP, GPT, and BUN had new ranges greater than the ones previously used. Creatinine ranges were lower than the ones present at the centre.
Biography: Anna Salazar-Casals is veterinarian at Sealcentre Pieterburen.

9. The Ice Whale as Icon of the Arctic

Herman Sips

Abstract: Balaena mysticetus is the second largest species of the world and the longest-living animal on the planet. After centuries of intensive whaling, the Greenland-Spitsbergen population depleted from over 50.000 animals to the IUCN-status ‘critically endangered’. Since the end of commercial whaling in the 20th century the Ice Whale slowly started to recover, but now the species faces a new threat: the melting away of the Arctic ice on which its depends and the increase of arctic shipping and exploration that inevitably will follow ice reduction. The principal goal of the Ice Whale Foundation is to transfer the Ice Whale from an almost forgotten species into the Icon of the Arctic. Major part of the project is a unique series of scientific expeditions through the Arctic drift ice in the midst of the polar winter and polar night, to reveal the presumed, but so far undiscovered mating grounds and mating behaviour of the singing Ice Whales.
Biography: Herman Sips is a Groningen University-educated biologist. In 2015 he sailed with his boat from the Netherlands to north of Spitbergen, the Cachalot Arctic Tour. In 2017 he started the Ice Whale Foundation.

10. Describing the whale watch activity in the Northern part of the Pelagos sanctuary as an insight for mitigation of this activity

Ronald Smit

Abstract: This poster describes the results of my master internship. I have done research on the possible negative effects of whale watching on whales in the Italian part of the Ligurian Sea (The Pelagos sanctuary). I have done this by collecting data (such as sighted animals, behaviour and the route of the vessel) on board of several whale watching vessels. Using this data I have calculated the potential risk of whale watching on the spotted species by using maps. Fin whale (Baleanoptera physalus), sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) and Cuvier’s beaked whale (Ziphius cavirostris) are possibly at risk in this area. The results of this research can contribute to the management of whale watching in the Pelagos sanctuary. I have also presented this poster at the ECS conference in 2017.
Biography: I am a graduate of the master Aquaculture and Marine Resources Management at the Wageningen University. During my studies, I have done a lot of work on marine mammals. For my thesis I studied harbour porpoises in Tromsø, Norway. And for my internship I studied the potential risk of whale watching on several whale species in the Italian part of the Ligurian Sea (The Pelagos sanctuary). The poster that I will present, is about this research. After my master I have done voluntary work for Stichting Rugvin (Rugvin foundation). Stichting Rugvin does research on the harbour porpoise population in the Eastern Scheldt (Oosterschelde) in the south of the Netherlands. In the future, I hope to continue working with marine mammals and the conservation of our oceans.

11. Killer tags: Estimating the effect of eavesdropping killer whales in acoustic tagging projects on fish in British Columbia.

Naomi Tuhuteru¹, Sophie Smout¹ and Volker Deecke²

¹ University of St Andrews; ² University of Cumbria

Abstract: Salmon population in British Colombia (Canada) have been monitored using Ultrasonic Coded Transmitters (UCT’s) since 1980. These UTC’s are surgically implanted and transmit a signal registering an animals unique ID if it approaches a receiver within 500 meter. Studies have found evidence of marine mammals being able to detect these UCT signals and even use this information to guide foraging decisions. Using killer whale movement data derived from DTAG’s, this study aimed to gain understanding of the effect of acoustically sensitive predators (killer whales) on UCT tagged fish (Chinook salmon) using agent based modelling.
Biography: Ik ben recent afgestudeerd aan de University of St Andrews waar ik Marine Mammal Science heb gestudeerd. Ik heb afgelopen paar maanden gewerkt aan bruinvis en potvis dieetreconstrucitie bij Wageningen Marine Research en ben momenteel bezig met het uitwerken van mijn thesis voor een publicatie. Daarnaast ben ik gestart als ZZP’er en ben ik dus op zoek naar interessante projecten.

12. Effect of porpoise specific ADD, FaunaGuard Porpoise Module (FG-PM), on the behaviour of wild harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena)

Rogier von Asmuth

Abstract: The harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) is a small odontocete that uses echolocation to navigate and hunt. The species is listed as “Least Concern”, but suffers from human interference. Anthropogenic sound interference in porpoise habitat is a growing threat to these animals and the most influential sources, such as pile-driving and underwater explosions, can damage hearing. Animal deterrent devices (ADDs) can prevent damage by deterring porpoises from harmful areas. Most ADDs can be harmful to harbour porpoises that do not react, or react too late. In this research porpoises were observed in the wild, in the Marsdiep area (Texel, Netherlands), and exposed to the FaunaGuard Porpoise Module (FG-PM). Observed porpoises were recorded using one rotatable and 5 stationary DSLR cameras. These recordings were used to determine the location of the harbour porpoise surfacings with photogrammetry. Tracks were made of individual animals and used to calculate various data, such as relative speed and distance to the FaunaGuard Porpoise Module (FG-PM). This research proves the FaunaGuard Porpoise Module (FG-PM) provides an effective and consistent means of deterring all, or nearly all, wild harbour porpoises away from its effect distance, of 1000 meters for this site. This shows that the right sound interference can be used to further decrease the harmful impact of sound interference for odontocetes. It also shows the necessity of taking into account the frequency dependant perceived sound pressure level for the target species. This shows that odontocetes can be protected from loud, localised sound by using a specific deterring device.
Biography: I’m a Biology student, currently finishing my last research internship after which I’ll have my MSc degree and look for a job in marine biology, preferably in marine research and preferably a PhD research. I have a broad interest in marine biology (just no microbial stuff). I have previously worked (via internships for my studies) on cleaner shrimps (Ancylomenes genus) and harbour porpoises (that’s what the poster is about), and am currently doing research on Caribbean (Jamaica) coral reefs and the (intra- and interspecific) relationships that algae and herbivores have on these reefs. I’m very flexible professionally (and anatomically, but that’s not really relevant), my interests are very broad, and I have no problem working in a team with set procedures or working alone and making up my own procedures, I can be blunt in giving my opinions though.

13. The Habitat Use and Behaviour of Indo -Pacific Finless Porpoise Pacific Finless Porpoise (Neophocaena phocaenoides) in Hong Kong SAR Waters

Serena Le Double

Abstract: Finless porpoise are small in size and can be challenging to study. They occur along the coast of Asia where they are poorly understood. Indo-Pacific finless porpoise reside in coastal areas and as such are heavily impacted by anthropogenic activities. The population that occurs in Hong Kong live in a severely compromised habitat and is exposed to many anthropogenic threats such as pollution, resource loss through over-fishing, bycatch in fisheries, underwater noise and habitat destruction. As most porpoise are challenging to study visually, acoustic monitoring for this and other populations has shown to be a reliable method. The main aim of this study is to investigate patterns in habitat use of finless porpoise around the coast of Lamma Island, an area where many stranded porpoise have been collected. Acoustic data was collected using autonomous acoustic loggers (CPODs) and environmental data was obtained from government monitoring programs. Using generalised additive models (GAM), diurnal patterns were demonstrated with porpoise being most active at night. There was some evidence for seasonality of occurrence linked to Hong Kong wet and dry seasons. Several environmental factors were also identified to influence echolocation. The findings of this work will contribute to management measures aimed at better conserving the population of Hong Kong finless porpoise.
Biography: My name is Serena Le Double, 23 years old and I recently obtained my MSc in Limnology and Oceanography (at the UvA). I am looking for a PhD position in ecology and/or behavior of marine mammals, and in the meanwhile I will be working as a North Sea wildlife officer (March-September) for the marine mammal conservation and education organisation ORCA.

14. “Walvissen vet en groot”

Hans Beelen

Abstract: een bloemlezing-in-wording van fragmenten uit allerlei historisch teksten rond arctische walvisvaart, bv. dagboeken, ooggetuigenverslagen, reisbeschrijvingen, wetenschappelijke teksten, gebeden, liederen, gedichten, pamfletten. Het rijk verluchte boek, waarin de gekozen fragmenten in modern Nederlands worden gepresenteerd, zal in de herfst van dit jaar verschijnen bij uitgeverij Athenaeum.
Biography: Hans Beelen is als neerlandicus werkzaam aan de Universiteit Oldenburg. Zijn bijzondere belangstelling geldt de geschiedenis van de walvisvaart. In het kader van een crowdsourcing project gaf hij leiding aan het digitaal editeren van een historische bibliotheek van 35 Nederlandstalige werken rond arctische walvisvaart. Voor de bloemlezing werkt hij samen met zijn collega Ingrid Biesheuvel (Universiteit Utrecht).

15. How vulnerable are the fin whales in the Gulf of California?

Vania Rivera-León, Jorge Urban-Ramírez, Sally Mizroch, Christian Ramp, Richard Sears, Martine Bérubé and Per Palsbøll

Abstract: Previous genetic analyses have suggested that the Gulf of California fin whale population is genetically isolated from the populations in the North Pacific. In this study we extend previous genetic work by analyzing 18 microsatellite loci and mitochondrial control regions DNA sequences in 477 samples from the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, North Pacific and the Gulf of California. The objective was to assess how vulnerable the Gulf of California fin whale population is to random genetic effects. Towards this end we estimated current genetic variation, the degree of population differentiation, as well as the long- and short-term effective population size. We estimated comparatively low levels of genetic variation in the Gulf of California population in accordance with previous studies (h=0.14, π=0.0006 and He=0.49) and a high degree of isolation from the North Pacific (FST=0.23 for mtDNA and 0.22 for nuclear loci). The current effective population size of the Gulf of California fin whale population was estimated at 352 [260-518] with a low current migration rate m=0.026. Our analyses show, quite conclusively, that the Gulf of California fin whale population is a small, unique and distinct unit of conservation, which is and likely very vulnerable.
Biography: Vania Elizabeth Rivera León is a PhD student in the group of Marine Evolution and Conservation at Rijksuniversiteit Groningen.

16. Middelfart Listening Station

Chris Pierpoint¹, Jonas Teilmann², Jakob Tougaard², Jeppe Dalgaard Balle², Katja Peterson², Line Anker Kyhn², Jon Narramore¹, James Morrish¹

¹ Seiche Ltd., Bradworthy Ind. Estate, Langdon Rd., Bradworthy, Devon, Ex22 7SF, United Kingdom, c.pierpoint@seiche.com; ² Institut for Bioscience, Aarhus Universitet, Frederiksborgvej 399, 4000 Roskilde, Denmark

Abstract: We have installed a long-term passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) station within Little Belt Marine Protected Area off the coast of Middelfart, Denmark. The aim is to monitor habitat use by harbour porpoise and the sound levels of passing ship traffic. Two hydrophones and low-noise preamplifiers are mounted on a pyramidal frame on the seabed. One hydrophone has a broadband frequency response and is sensitive to harbour porpoise echolocation signals at ~130 kHz. The second hydrophone has a low frequency response and is primarily used to monitor sound pressure levels below 20 kHz. The system is powered via a cable connection to shore. The hydrophone signals are monitored at a shore station using the software Pamguard, which includes a high frequency click detector and porpoise click classifier. Background sound pressure levels are calculated and displayed in 1/3 octave bands, and vessel movements are monitored by integrating an AIS receiver. Real-time underwater sound is output to a public exhibition display – for this we mix the low frequency hydrophone signal with the audible envelope waveform of porpoise clicks. The system is also accessed over an internet connection – this provides data to the Aarhus University research team and will be streamed to a public-access web portal. We intend to extend this system to provide porpoise localisation and to incorporate non-acoustic sensors (salinity, temperature, etc.) that will help us interpret local porpoise ecology. We present an outline of the PAM system and our initial results.
Biography: I have a keen interest in bioacoustics technology and software for monitoring and analysing sounds of marine mammals. Over the past 10 years I have worked extensively in the offshore E&P sector to mitigate the disturbance of marine mammals from anthropogenic sound emissions. I have also worked on collaborative research projects with several institutions and government agencies on baseline surveys of marine mammals using passive acoustics and other emerging technologies including infrared camera systems and autonomous surface vehicles. In my current role I am a project manager and member of the Bioscience Group at Seiche Ltd. My main responsibilities are the installation, maintenance and operation of acoustic monitoring and remote sensing systems in the field and to provide technical support and training to operators of these systems. Aside from my role at Seiche, I am co-founder and technical director of a non-profit scientific outreach and professional development organisation called Whalefish. I also am a full member and chartered scientist (CSci, CMarSci) with IMarEST and a full member of the Marine Mammal Observers Association (MMOA).


Back to the Zeezoogdierdagen 2018