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Hilary B. Moors-Murphy, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Bedford Institute of Oceanography, Canada
Norman Cochrane, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Bedford Institute of Oceanography, Canada
Bruce Martin, JASCO Applied Sciences, Canada
Katie Kowarski, JASCO Applied Sciences, Canada
Passive acoustic monitoring of cetaceans in the Gully Marine Protected Area and adjacent areas of the Scotian Slope

The Gully Marine Protected Area (MPA) is a large submarine canyon located south of Nova Scotia, Canada. It was designated as a Canadian Oceans Act MPA in 2004 in part due to the abundance and diversity of cetaceans that occur in the canyon. The core region of the Gully has been identified as critical habitat of Endangered northern bottlenose whales. Other at-risk and rare species such as Sowerby’s beaked whales and blue whales are also more frequently observed within the canyon than in other areas off eastern Canada. Investigating the occurrence of cetaceans in the Gully throughout the year has been identified as a research priority for the MPA. Traditionally, most information on whales in the Gully has been collected during summer months due to the difficulties of conducting field studies when weather conditions are more adverse. To fill in this important knowledge gap, two years of near-continuous acoustic data has been collected from the Gully and adjacent slope areas using bottom-mounted Autonomous Multichannel Acoustic Recorders (AMARs, © JASCO Applied Sciences). The hourly occurrence of specific species vocalizations throughout the year was investigated both within and outside the canyon. The results of this study indicate that many species occur in the Gully throughout the year, including a variety of baleen, beaked, and sperm whales, and delphinids, and some species are detected more often within the canyon. In addition, this long-term acoustic data set is being analyzed to establish baseline information on the year-round acoustic environment of the Gully MPA, including natural background ambient noise levels and anthropogenic noise sources, the latter constituting an important potential threat to cetaceans. This presentation will review some preliminary results of the long-term acoustic monitoring study and discuss implications for future research and monitoring efforts within the MPA.

Theme 4: Physical and anthropogenic disturbance in submarine canyons, conservation and marine policy
Poster Presentation
cetaceans, the Gully, MPA, acoustics