Assessing temporal and spatial patterns of bowhead whale presence and underwater noise in the western Canadian Arctic
Understanding when and where bowhead whales occur is ecologically, culturally and politically important in the context of a rapidly changing climate, with some of the greatest impacts happening in the Arctic. Decreases in sea ice allow for increased shipping and its associated underwater noise in one of the last acoustically pristine habitats in the world. Bowheads, the only endemic Arctic mysticete and a cultural keystone species for the Inuit, are vocal, their survival depends on sound, thus vulnerable to increasing noise. Enriching our knowledge on bowhead presence and underwater noise is possible with Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) and becomes crucial for the conservation of the species and the entire Arctic ecosystem. This postdoc will use existing and new PAM recordings to monitor the distribution of bowheads and measure their exposure to shipping noise in the western Canadian Arctic. Results will provide some of the best evidence on the timing of migration and habitat use of bowheads, and important baseline for underwater noise allowing future comparisons as the Arctic changes; eventually can help inform effective management.