PRISMM2018 Tom and ship

Pacific Region International Survey of Marine Megafauna  (PRISMM)

The Pacific Region International Survey of Marine Megafauna (PRISMM) survey consisted of an extensive line transect survey that included both visual and passive acoustic monitoring components. This was the first systematic survey of marine mammals in western Canada’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The EEZ boundary off western Canada includes waters out to the 200 offshore limit from the coast of Vancouver Island and Haida Gwaii (formerly known as the Queen Charlotte Islands).

PRISMM2018 Tom arrayBio-Waves Inc. staff were responsible for conducting passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) that was used to complement visual survey efforts. The primary goal of this massive effort was to assess the distribution, abundance, and occurrence of cetaceans in the study area. PAM is particularly effective during inclement weather (e.g., high sea-states or poor visibility), and for species that are deep-divers, visually elusive or cryptic. This includes deep diving species such as sperm whales and beaked whales.PRISMM2018 deploying During poor sighting conditions (e.g. in fog, or at night) we could also detect killer-whales, baleen whales (e.g. blue fin and humpback whales) and even small odontocetes such as Dall’s and harbor porpoise. Acoustic monitoring was conducted 24 hours per day, as sea conditions and other operations allowed. For this project, Bio-Waves used custom-designed towed hydrophone array system that was deployed around the clock for 24 hour monitoring capabilities.

In addition to towed array operations, Bio-Waves staff systematically deployed and monitored Directional Frequency Analysis and Recording (DiFAR) sonobuoys . These were also deployed when species of interest were sighted or heard on the towed array. Acoustic monitoring was conducted continuously through aural and visual monitoring of spectrograms and bearing/time displays using PAMGuard software. Preliminary field results indicate that thecombined day/night passive acoustic effort resulted in 38 days of survey effort, covering roughly 4976 nautical miles of effort, containing a total of 793 hours of data collection and monitoring. A total of 144 detections and 71 localizations (mostly sperm whales) were made. These data ultimately be analyzed further to estimate distribution and abundance for some species.

PRISMM2018 map

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