Large whale satellite telemetry: A tool for determining habitat-use, distribution, and behavior of endangered whale populations.
Amy S. Kennedy, Ph D
JISAO and NOAA/NMFS/AFSC Marine Mammal Laboratory, Seattle, WA
Thursday, October 12, 2017 4:00 PM
Fishery Sciences Building, Room 102
Open advising – with guests from UW Study Abroad hosted in FSH lobby from 3:15-4:00 pm
Over the past decade, NOAA’s Marine Mammal Laboratory (MML) and JISAO scientists have partnered with local and international organizations to conduct satellite telemetry research on large whales in order to describe their fine-scale movement and habitat-use. In addition to ecological studies, projects detailing the physical and physiological effects of tagging on individuals and populations have been conducted. North Pacific right whales, humpbacks, and gray whales were tagged with the implantable configurations of SPOT5 and MK-10a transmitters produced by Wildlife Computers. The cylindrical tags are designed to penetrate the dorsal surface of the whale’s body and anchor in the blubber/muscle fascia. External components of the tag are made of surgical quality stainless steel and are sterilized prior to deployment. Results from these projects show that satellite telemetry is a powerful tool for collecting fine-scale movement data (particularly in remote areas) that cannot be obtained or predicted in any other manner. We found that while whales aggregate in well-known areas, there can be substantial individual movement variation within seasons. Results also show that whales are routinely crossing international borders, reinforcing the need for multinational collaboration when managing these endangered animals. Finally, our research has contributed greatly to improving tag designs and deployment techniques that minimize the physical impacts of tagging and maximize the longevity of transmission.
Dr. Amy Kennedy is a research scientist with JISAO at the Marine Mammal Marine Laboratory (a division of NOAA Fisheries) in Seattle, WA (USA). After receiving her doctorate from the University of Paris, Dr. Kennedy’s research goals have focused on telemetry-driven research and development, with emphasis on fine-scale cetacean habitat-use within high human impact regions and/or marine protected areas. Since she began tagging whales in 2009, she has deployed Argos-monitored implantable satellite tags (deployed using the Air Rocket Transmission System, ARTS) in humpback, right and gray whales in the Chukchi and Bering Seas, Gulf of Maine, Straits of Magellan, Dominican Republic, Arabian Sea, South Africa, Brazil, and the French West Indies. Dr. Kennedy’s current research focuses on using telemetry data to describe large whale habitat-use in breeding and feeding grounds.