Inter-agency agreements have been established between the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), Department of Interior and the National Marine Mammal Laboratory, Alaska Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce. The intent of these agreements is to provide funding to conduct surveys of bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus) and other marine mammals in the Alaskan Arctic.
The Aerial Surveys of Arctic Marine Mammals project is a continuation of the Bowhead Whale Aerial Survey Project (BWASP) and Chukchi Offshore Monitoring in Drilling Area (COMIDA) marine mammal aerial survey project. The goal of these studies is to document the distribution and relative abundance of bowhead, gray, right, and fin whales, belugas, and other marine mammals in areas of potential oil and natural gas exploration, development, and production activities in the Alaskan Beaufort and northeastern Chukchi Seas. The 2013 ASAMM field season ran from 2 July to 30 October (click here for daily survey reports). Data from the ASAMM surveys will be used to relate variation in marine mammal distribution or abundance to other variables, such as physical oceanographic conditions, indices of potential prey density, and anthropogenic activities, if information on these variables is available. (See historical data below.)
Specific objectives for the survey project include:
- Describe the annual migration of bowhead whales across the Alaskan Arctic, significant inter-year differences, and long-term trends in the spatial distribution and timing (duration and start date) of the migration;
- Document relative abundance, spatial and temporal distribution, and behavior (including calving/pupping, feeding, hauling out) of marine mammals (cetaceans, ice seals, walruses, and polar bears) in the Alaskan Arctic;
- Provide near real-time data and maps to BOEM and NMFS on marine mammals in the Alaskan Arctic, with specific interest in endangered species, such as bowhead whales;
- Provide an objective wide-area context for understanding marine mammal ecology in the Alaskan Arctic, to help inform management decisions and interpret results of other small-scale studies
2013 Aerial Survey of Arctic Marine Mammals flightlines and marine mammal sightings. Click map to enlarge.
- Distribution and Relative Abundance of Marine Mammals in the Alaskan Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, 2012
- Distribution and Relative Abundance of Marine Mammals in the Alaskan Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, 2011
- Aerial Surveys of Endangered Whales in the Beaufort Sea, Fall 2010
- COMIDA Distribution and Relative Abundance of Marine Mammals 2008-2010
- Aerial Surveys of Endangered Whales in the Beaufort Sea, Fall 2009
- Aerial Surveys of Endangered Whales in the Beaufort Sea, Fall 2006-2008