Zitterbart Daniel

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  • Article
    Full circumpolar migration ensures evolutionary unity in the Emperor penguin
    (Nature Publishing Group, 2016-06-14) Cristofari, Robin ; Bertorelle, Giorgio ; Ancel, André ; Benazzo, Andrea ; Le Maho, Yvon ; Ponganis, Paul J. ; Stenseth, Nils Christian ; Trathan, Phil N. ; Whittington, Jason D. ; Zanetti, Enrico ; Zitterbart, Daniel ; Le Bohec, Céline ; Trucchi, Emiliano
    Defining reliable demographic models is essential to understand the threats of ongoing environmental change. Yet, in the most remote and threatened areas, models are often based on the survey of a single population, assuming stationarity and independence in population responses. This is the case for the Emperor penguin Aptenodytes forsteri, a flagship Antarctic species that may be at high risk continent-wide before 2100. Here, using genome-wide data from the whole Antarctic continent, we reveal that this top-predator is organized as one single global population with a shared demography since the late Quaternary. We refute the view of the local population as a relevant demographic unit, and highlight that (i) robust extinction risk estimations are only possible by including dispersal rates and (ii) colony-scaled population size is rather indicative of local stochastic events, whereas the species’ response to global environmental change is likely to follow a shared evolutionary trajectory.
  • Article
    Respiration cycle duration and seawater flux through open blowholes of humpback (Megaptera novaeangliae) and North Atlantic right (Eubalaena glacialis) whales
    (Wiley, 2020-05-29) Martins, Maria Clara Iruzun ; Miller, Carolyn ; Hamilton, Philip K. ; Robbins, Jooke ; Zitterbart, Daniel ; Moore, Michael J.
    Little is known about the dynamics of baleen whale respiratory cycles, especially the mechanics and activity of the blowholes and their interaction with seawater. In this study, the duration of complete respiration cycles (expiration/inhalation events) were quantified for the first time in two species: North Atlantic right whale (NARW) and humpback whale (HW) using high resolution, detailed imagery from an unoccupied aerial system (UAS). The mean duration of complete respiration cycles (expiration/inhalation event) in the NARW and HW were 3.07 s (SD = 0.503, n = 15) and 2.85 s (SD = 0.581, n = 21), respectively. Furthermore, we saw no significant differences in respiration cycle duration between age and sex classes in the NARW, but significant differences were observed between age classes in the HW. The observation of seawater covering an open blowhole was also quantified, with NARW having 20% of all breaths with seawater presence versus 90% in HW. Seawater incursion has not been described previously and challenges the general consensus that water does not enter the respiratory tract in baleen whales. Prevalent seawater has implications for the analysis and interpretation of exhaled respiratory vapor/mucosa samples, as well as for the potential inhalation of oil in spills.
  • Article
    Low-frequency ocean ambient noise on the Chukchi Shelf in the changing Arctic
    (Acoustical Society of America, 2021-06-09) Bonnel, Julien ; Kinda, G. Bazile ; Zitterbart, Daniel
    This article presents the study of a passive acoustic dataset recorded on the Chukchi Shelf from October 2016 to July 2017 during the Canada Basin Acoustic Propagation Experiment (CANAPE). The study focuses on the low-frequency (250–350 Hz) ambient noise (after individual transient signals are removed) and its environmental drivers. A specificity of the experimental area is the Beaufort Duct, a persistent warm layer intrusion of variable extent created by climate change, which favors long-range acoustic propagation. The Chukchi Shelf ambient noise shows traditional polar features: it is quieter and wind force influence is reduced when the sea is ice-covered. However, the study reveals two other striking features. First, if the experimental area is covered with ice, the ambient noise drops by up to 10 dB/Hz when the Beaufort Duct disappears. Further, a large part of the noise variability is driven by distant cryogenic events, hundreds of kilometers away from the acoustic receivers. This was quantified using correlations between the CANAPE acoustic data and distant ice-drift magnitude data (National Snow and Ice Data Center).
  • Article
    Biologging of emperor penguins-attachment techniques and associated deployment performance
    (Public Library of Science, 2022-08-04) Houstin, Aymeric ; Zitterbart, Daniel ; Winterl, Alexander ; Richter, Sebastian ; Planas-Bielsa, Víctor ; Chevallier, Damien ; Ancel, André ; Fournier, Jérôme ; Fabry, Ben ; Le Bohec, Céline
    An increasing number of marine animals are equipped with biologgers, to study their physiology, behaviour and ecology, often for conservation purposes. To minimise the impacts of biologgers on the animals’ welfare, the Refinement principle from the Three Rs framework (Replacement, Reduction, Refinement) urges to continuously test and evaluate new and updated biologging protocols. Here, we propose alternative and promising techniques for emperor penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri) capture and on-site logger deployment that aim to mitigate the potential negative impacts of logger deployment on these birds. We equipped adult emperor penguins for short-term (GPS, Time-Depth Recorder (TDR)) and long-term (i.e. planned for one year) deployments (ARGOS platforms, TDR), as well as juvenile emperor penguins for long-term deployments (ARGOS platforms) in the Weddell Sea area where they had not yet been studied. We describe and qualitatively evaluate our protocols for the attachment of biologgers on-site at the colony, the capture of the animals and the recovery of the devices after deployment. We report unprecedented recaptures of long-term equipped adult emperor penguins (50% of equipped individuals recaptured after 290 days). Our data demonstrate that the traditional technique of long-term attachment by gluing the biologgers directly to the back feathers causes excessive feather breakage and the loss of the devices after a few months. We therefore propose an alternative method of attachment for back-mounted devices. This technique led to successful year-round deployments on 37.5% of the equipped juveniles. Finally, we also disclose the first deployments of leg-bracelet mounted TDRs on emperor penguins. Our findings highlight the importance of monitoring potential impacts of biologger deployments on the animals and the need to continue to improve methods to minimize disturbance and enhance performance and results.
  • Article
    Comparing methods suitable for monitoring marine mammals in low visibility conditions during seismic surveys
    (Elsevier, 2017-11-07) Verfuss, Ursula K. ; Gillespie, Douglas ; Gordon, Jonathan ; Marques, Tiago A. ; Miller, Brianne ; Plunkett, Rachael ; Theriault, James A. ; Tollit, Dominic J. ; Zitterbart, Daniel ; Hubert, Philippe ; Thomas, Len
    Loud sound emitted during offshore industrial activities can impact marine mammals. Regulations typically prescribe marine mammal monitoring before and/or during these activities to implement mitigation measures that minimise potential acoustic impacts. Using seismic surveys under low visibility conditions as a case study, we review which monitoring methods are suitable and compare their relative strengths and weaknesses. Passive acoustic monitoring has been implemented as either a complementary or alternative method to visual monitoring in low visibility conditions. Other methods such as RADAR, active sonar and thermal infrared have also been tested, but are rarely recommended by regulatory bodies. The efficiency of the monitoring method(s) will depend on the animal behaviour and environmental conditions, however, using a combination of complementary systems generally improves the overall detection performance. We recommend that the performance of monitoring systems, over a range of conditions, is explored in a modelling framework for a variety of species.
  • Article
    The emperor penguin - vulnerable to projected rates of warming and sea ice loss
    (Elsevier, 2019-10-08) Trathan, Phil N. ; Wienecke, Barbara ; Barbraud, Christophe ; Jenouvrier, Stephanie ; Kooyman, Gerald L. ; Le Bohec, Céline ; Ainley, David G. ; Ancel, André ; Zitterbart, Daniel ; Chown, Steven L. ; LaRue, Michelle ; Cristofari, Robin ; Younger, Jane ; Clucas, Gemma V. ; Bost, Charles-Andre ; Brown, Jennifer A. ; Gillett, Harriet J. ; Fretwell, Peter T.
    We argue the need to improve climate change forecasting for ecology, and importantly, how to relate long-term projections to conservation. As an example, we discuss the need for effective management of one species, the emperor penguin, Aptenodytes forsteri. This species is unique amongst birds in that its breeding habit is critically dependent upon seasonal fast ice. Here, we review its vulnerability to ongoing and projected climate change, given that sea ice is susceptible to changes in winds and temperatures. We consider published projections of future emperor penguin population status in response to changing environments. Furthermore, we evaluate the current IUCN Red List status for the species, and recommend that its status be changed to Vulnerable, based on different modelling projections of population decrease of ≥50% over the current century, and the specific traits of the species. We conclude that current conservation measures are inadequate to protect the species under future projected scenarios. Only a reduction in anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions will reduce threats to the emperor penguin from altered wind regimes, rising temperatures and melting sea ice; until such time, other conservation actions are necessary, including increased spatial protection at breeding sites and foraging locations. The designation of large-scale marine spatial protection across its range would benefit the species, particularly in areas that have a high probability of becoming future climate change refugia. We also recommend that the emperor penguin is listed by the Antarctic Treaty as an Antarctic Specially Protected Species, with development of a species Action Plan.
  • Article
    Quantifying the causes and consequences of variation in satellite-derived population indices: a case study of emperor penguins
    (Wiley Open Access, 2021-08-11) Labrousse, Sara ; Iles, David T. ; Viollat, Lise ; Fretwell, Peter T. ; Trathan, Phil N. ; Zitterbart, Daniel ; Jenouvrier, Stephanie ; LaRue, Michelle
    Very high-resolution satellite (VHR) imagery is a promising tool for estimating the abundance of wildlife populations, especially in remote regions where traditional surveys are limited by logistical challenges. Emperor penguins Aptenodytes forsteri were the first species to have a circumpolar population estimate derived via VHR imagery. Here we address an untested assumption from Fretwell et al. (2012) that a single image of an emperor penguin colony is a reasonable representation of the colony for the year the image was taken. We evaluated satellite-related and environmental variables that might influence the calculated area of penguin pixels to reduce uncertainties in satellite-based estimates of emperor penguin populations in the future. We focused our analysis on multiple VHR images from three representative colonies: Atka Bay, Stancomb-Wills (Weddell Sea sector) and Coulman Island (Ross Sea sector) between September and December during 2011. We replicated methods in Fretwell et al. (2012), which included using supervised classification tools in ArcGIS 10.7 software to calculate area occupied by penguins (hereafter referred to as ‘population indices’) in each image. We found that population indices varied from 2 to nearly 6-fold, suggesting that penguin pixel areas calculated from a single image may not provide a complete understanding of colony size for that year. Thus, we further highlight the important roles of: (i) sun azimuth and elevation through image resolution and (ii) penguin patchiness (aggregated vs. distributed) on the calculated areas. We found an effect of wind and temperature on penguin patchiness. Despite intra-seasonal variability in population indices, simulations indicate that reliable, robust population trends are possible by including satellite-related and environmental covariates and aggregating indices across time and space. Our work provides additional parameters that should be included in future models of population size for emperor penguins.
  • Article
    Effectiveness of surface-based detection methods for vessel strike mitigation of North Atlantic right whale
    (Inter Research, 2022-09-29) Baille, Loïcka M. R. ; Zitterbart, Daniel P.
    Increasing commercial and recreational use of the world’s oceans has led to growing concerns about vessel and marine mammal encounters. For endangered species such as the North Atlantic right whaleEubalaena glacialis, reducing the number of vessel strikes is key to improving their protection. In this study, we developed an agent-based model to assess the efficacy of thermal imaging systems as a surface-based whale detection method for vessel strike mitigation. We found that the detection range of such systems is the determining factor for their efficacy and needs to be chosen according to vessel characteristics, such as speed and maneuverability. Furthermore, we found that combining large-scale (e.g. protected zones) and small-scale (e.g. on-board detection systems) mitigation strategies increases protection. Finally, technological improvements are needed to achieve reliable detection ranges beyond what is currently possible so that fast and poorly maneuverable vessels such as ultra-large container ships could benefit from on-board detection systems.
  • Article
    Spatio-temporal patterns in acoustic presence and distribution of Antarctic blue whales Balaenoptera musculus intermedia in the Weddell Sea
    (Inter-Research, 2016-07-18) Thomisch, Karolin ; Boebel, Olaf ; Clark, Christopher W. ; Hagen, Wilhelm ; Spiesecke, Stefanie ; Zitterbart, Daniel ; Van Opzeeland, Ilse
    Distribution and movement patterns of Antarctic blue whales Balaenoptera musculus intermedia at large temporal and spatial scales are still poorly understood. The objective of this study was to explore spatio-temporal distribution patterns of Antarctic blue whales in the Atlantic sector of the Southern Ocean, using passive acoustic monitoring data. Multi-year data were collected between 2008 and 2013 by 11 recorders deployed in the Weddell Sea and along the Greenwich meridian. Antarctic blue whale Z-calls were detected via spectrogram cross-correlation. A Blue Whale Index was developed to quantify the proportion of time during which acoustic energy from Antarctic blue whales dominated over background noise. Our results show that Antarctic blue whales were acoustically present year-round, with most call detections between January and April. During austral summer, the number of detected calls peaked synchronously throughout the study area in most years, and hence, no directed meridional movement pattern was detectable. During austral winter, vocalizations were recorded at latitudes as high as 69°S, with sea ice cover exceeding 90%, suggesting that some Antarctic blue whales overwinter in Antarctic waters. Polynyas likely serve as an important habitat for baleen whales during austral winter, providing food and reliable access to open water for breathing. Overall, our results support increasing evidence of a complex and non-obligatory migratory behavior of Antarctic blue whales, potentially involving temporally and spatially dynamic migration routes and destinations, as well as variable timing of migration to and from the feeding grounds.
  • Article
    Estimating the spatial distribution of vocalizing animals from ambient sound spectra using widely spaced recorder arrays and inverse modelling
    (Acoustical Society of America, 2019-12-31) Menze, Sebastian ; Zitterbart, Daniel ; Biuw, Martin ; Boebel, Olaf
    The sound energy from marine mammal populations vocalizing over extended periods of time adds up to quasi-continuous “choruses,” which create characteristic peaks in marine sound spectra. An approach to estimate animal distribution is presented, which uses chorus recordings from very sparse unsynchronized arrays in ocean areas that are too large or remote to survey with traditional methods. To solve this under-determined inverse problem, simulated annealing is used to estimate the distribution of vocalizing animals on a geodesic grid. This includes calculating a transmission loss (TL) matrix, which connects all grid nodes and recorders. Geometrical spreading and the ray trace model BELLHOP [Porter (1987). J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 82(4), 1349–1359] were implemented. The robustness of the proposed method was tested with simulated marine mammal distributions in the Atlantic sector of the Southern Ocean using both drifting acoustic recorders [Argo (2018). SEANOE] and a moored array as acoustic receivers. The results show that inversion accuracy mainly depends on the number and location of the recorders, and can be predicted using the entropy and range of the estimated source distributions. Tests with different TL models indicated that inversion accuracy is affected only slightly by inevitable inaccuracies in TL models. The presented method could also be applied to bird, crustacean, and insect choruses.
  • Article
    Investigating the thermal physiology of critically endangered North Atlantic right whales Eubalaena glacialis via aerial infrared thermography
    (Inter Research, 2022-07-21) Lonati, Gina ; Zitterbart, Daniel ; Miller, Carolyn A. ; Corkeron, Peter ; Murphy, Christin T. ; Moore, Michael J.
    The Critically Endangered status of North Atlantic right whales Eubalaena glacialis (NARWs) warrants the development of new, less invasive technology to monitor the health of individuals. Combined with advancements in remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS, commonly ‘drones’), infrared thermography (IRT) is being increasingly used to detect and count marine mammals and study their physiology. We conducted RPAS-based IRT over NARWs in Cape Cod Bay, MA, USA, in 2017 and 2018. Observations demonstrated 3 particularly useful applications of RPAS-based IRT to study large whales: (1) exploring patterns of cranial heat loss and providing insight into the physiological mechanisms that produce these patterns; (2) tracking subsurface individuals in real-time (depending on the thermal stratification of the water column) using cold surface water anomalies resulting from fluke upstrokes; and (3) detecting natural changes in superficial blood circulation or diagnosing pathology based on heat anomalies on post-cranial body surfaces. These qualitative applications present a new, important opportunity to study, monitor, and conserve large whales, particularly rare and at-risk species such as NARWs. Despite the challenges of using this technology in aquatic environments, the applications of RPAS-based IRT for monitoring the health and behavior of endangered marine mammals, including the collection of quantitative data on thermal physiology, will continue to diversify.
  • Article
    TOSSIT: a low-cost, hand deployable, rope-less and acoustically silent mooring for underwater passive acoustic monitoring
    (Elsevier, 2022-04-19) Zitterbart, Daniel ; Bocconcelli, Alessandro ; Ochs, Miles ; Bonnel, Julien
    Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) has been used to study the ocean for decades across several fields to answer biological, geological and meteorological questions such as marine mammal presence, measures of anthropogenic noise in the ocean, and monitoring and prediction of underwater earthquakes and tsunamis. While in previous decades the high cost of acoustic instruments limited its use, miniaturization and microprocessor advances dramatically reduced the cost for passive acoustic monitoring instruments making PAM available for a broad scientific community. Such low-cost devices are often deployed by divers or on mooring lines with a surface buoy, which limit their use to diving depth and coastal regions. Here, we present a low-cost, low self-noise and hand-deployable PAM mooring design, called TOSSIT. It can be used in water as deep as 500 m, and can be deployed and recovered by hand by a single operator (more comfortably with two) in a small boat. The TOSSIT modular mooring system consists of a light and strong non-metallic frame that can fit a variety of sensors including PAM instruments, acoustic releases, additional power packages, environmental parameter sensors. The TOSSIT’s design is rope-less, which removes any risk of entanglement and keeps the self-noise very low.
  • Article
    No evidence of microplastic ingestion in emperor penguin chicks (Aptenodytes forsteri) from the Atka Bay colony (Dronning Maud Land, Antarctica)
    (Elsevier, 2022-09-01) Leistenschneider, Clara ; Le Bohec, Céline ; Eisen, Olaf ; Houstin, Aymeric ; Neff, Simon ; Primpke, Sebastian ; Zitterbart, Daniel ; Burkhardt-Holm, Patricia
    Microplastic (<5 mm; MP) pollution has been an emerging threat for marine ecosystems around the globe with increasing evidence that even the world's most remote areas, including Antarctica, are no longer unaffected. Few studies however, have examined MP in Antarctic biota, and especially those from Antarctic regions with low human activity, meaning little is known about the extent to which biota are affected. The aim of this study was to investigate, for the first time, the occurrence of MP in the emperor penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri), the only penguin species breeding around Antarctica during the austral winter, and an endemic apex predator in the Southern Ocean. To assess MP ingestion, the gizzards of 41 emperor penguin chicks from Atka Bay colony (Dronning Maud Land, Antarctica), were dissected and analyzed for MP >500 μm using Attenuated Total Reflection Fourier-transform Infrared (ATR-FTIR) spectroscopy. A total of 85 putative particles, mostly in the shape of fibers (65.9 %), were sorted. However, none of the particles were identified as MP applying state-of-the-art methodology. Sorted fibers were further evidenced to originate from contamination during sample processing and analyses. We find that MP concentrations in the local food web of the Weddell Sea and Dronning Maud Land coastal and marginal sea-ice regions; the feeding grounds to chick-rearing emperor penguin adults, are currently at such low levels that no detectable biomagnification is occurring via trophic transfer. Being in contrast to MP studies on other Antarctic and sub-Antarctic penguin species, our comparative discussion including these studies, highlights the importance for standardized procedures for sampling, sample processing and analyses to obtain comparable results. We further discuss other stomach contents and their potential role for MP detection, as well as providing a baseline for the long-term monitoring of MP in apex predator species from this region.
  • Article
    Juvenile emperor penguin range calls for extended conservation measures in the Southern Ocean
    (The Royal Society, 2022-08-31) Houstin, Aymeric ; Zitterbart, Daniel ; Heerah, Karine ; Eisen, Olaf ; Planas-Bielsa, Víctor ; Fabry, Ben ; Le Bohec, Céline
    To protect the unique and rich biodiversity of the Southern Ocean, conservation measures such as marine protected areas (MPAs) have been implemented. Currently, the establishment of several additional protection zones is being considered based on the known habitat distributions of key species of the ecosystems including emperor penguins and other marine top predators. However, the distribution of such species at sea is often insufficiently sampled. Specifically, current distribution models focus on the habitat range of adult animals and neglect that immatures and juveniles can inhabit different areas. By tracking eight juvenile emperor penguins in the Weddell Sea over 1 year and performing a meta-analysis including previously known data from other colonies, we show that conservation efforts in the Southern Ocean are insufficient for protecting this highly mobile species, and particularly its juveniles. We find that juveniles spend approximately 90% of their time outside the boundaries of proposed and existing MPAs, and that their distribution extends beyond (greater than 1500 km) the species' extent of occurrence as defined by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Our data exemplify that strategic conservation plans for the emperor penguin and other long-lived ecologically important species should consider the dynamic habitat range of all age classes.
  • Article
    The influence of sea ice, wind speed and marine mammals on Southern Ocean ambient sound
    (The Royal Society, 2017-01-11) Menze, Sebastian ; Zitterbart, Daniel ; Van Opzeeland, Ilse ; Boebel, Olaf
    This paper describes the natural variability of ambient sound in the Southern Ocean, an acoustically pristine marine mammal habitat. Over a 3-year period, two autonomous recorders were moored along the Greenwich meridian to collect underwater passive acoustic data. Ambient sound levels were strongly affected by the annual variation of the sea-ice cover, which decouples local wind speed and sound levels during austral winter. With increasing sea-ice concentration, area and thickness, sound levels decreased while the contribution of distant sources increased. Marine mammal sounds formed a substantial part of the overall acoustic environment, comprising calls produced by Antarctic blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus intermedia), fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus), Antarctic minke whales (Balaenoptera bonaerensis) and leopard seals (Hydrurga leptonyx). The combined sound energy of a group or population vocalizing during extended periods contributed species-specific peaks to the ambient sound spectra. The temporal and spatial variation in the contribution of marine mammals to ambient sound suggests annual patterns in migration and behaviour. The Antarctic blue and fin whale contributions were loudest in austral autumn, whereas the Antarctic minke whale contribution was loudest during austral winter and repeatedly showed a diel pattern that coincided with the diel vertical migration of zooplankton.
  • Moving Image
    Humpback Whale Seawater Entry Videos
    (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 2017-07-14) Martins, Maria Clara Iruzun ; Miller, Carolyn ; Hamilton, Philip K. ; Robbins, Jooke ; Zitterbart, Daniel ; Moore, Michael
    These UAS video files show 2 individual humpback whales at the moment where seawater covers and enters the blowholes. Videos here are at half the speed of original UAS videos in order to fully capture the fast moment of seawater entering the blowhole. All videos were taken at Stellwagen Bank under NMFS NOAA Permits 17355, 17355-01 and 21371, and with approval from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee.
  • Article
    Abundance and distribution of sperm whales in the Canary Islands : can sperm whales in the archipelago sustain the current level of ship-strike mortalities?
    (Public Library of Science, 2016-03-21) Fais, Andrea ; Lewis, Tim P. ; Zitterbart, Daniel P. ; Alvarez, Omar ; Tejedor, Ana ; Aguilar De Soto, Natacha
    Sperm whales are present in the Canary Islands year-round, suggesting that the archipelago is an important area for this species in the North Atlantic. However, the area experiences one of the highest reported rates of sperm whale ship-strike in the world. Here we investigate if the number of sperm whales found in the archipelago can sustain the current rate of ship-strike mortality. The results of this study may also have implications for offshore areas where concentrations of sperm whales may coincide with high densities of ship traffic, but where ship-strikes may be undocumented. The absolute abundance of sperm whales in an area of 52933 km2, covering the territorial waters of the Canary Islands, was estimated from 2668 km of acoustic line-transect survey using Distance sampling analysis. Data on sperm whale diving and acoustic behaviour, obtained from bio-logging, were used to calculate g(0) = 0.92, this is less than one because of occasional extended periods when whales do not echolocate. This resulted in an absolute abundance estimate of 224 sperm whales (95% log-normal CI 120–418) within the survey area. The recruitment capability of this number of whales, some 2.5 whales per year, is likely to be exceeded by the current ship-strike mortality rate. Furthermore, we found areas of higher whale density within the archipelago, many coincident with those previously described, suggesting that these are important habitats for females and immature animals inhabiting the archipelago. Some of these areas are crossed by active shipping lanes increasing the risk of ship-strikes. Given the philopatry in female sperm whales, replacement of impacted whales might be limited. Therefore, the application of mitigation measures to reduce the ship-strike mortality rate seems essential for the conservation of sperm whales in the Canary Islands.
  • Dataset
    Investigating thermal physiology in large whales via aerial infrared thermography
    (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 2021-04-23) Lonati, Gina ; Zitterbart, Daniel ; Miller, Carolyn A. ; Corkeron, Peter ; Murphy, Christin T. ; Moore, Michael J.
    The critically endangered status of North Atlantic right whales (NARWs, Eubalaena glacialis) warrants the development of new, less invasive technology to monitor the health of individuals. Combined with advancements in remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS, commonly “drones”), infrared thermography (IRT) is being increasingly used to detect and count marine mammals and study their physiology. We conducted RPAS-based IRT over NARWs in Cape Cod Bay, Massachusetts, USA in 2017 and 2018. Observations demonstrated three particularly useful applications of RPAS-based IRT to study large whales: 1) exploring patterns of cranial heat loss and providing insight into the physiological mechanisms that produce these patterns; 2) tracking subsurface individuals in real-time (depending on the thermal stratification of the water column) using cold surface water anomalies resulting from fluke upstrokes; and 3) detecting natural changes in superficial blood circulation or diagnosing pathology based on hot anomalies on post-cranial body surfaces. These qualitative applications present a new, important opportunity to study and monitor large whales, particularly rare and at-risk species like NARWs. Despite the challenges of using this technology in aquatic environments, the applications of RPAS-based IRT for monitoring the health and behavior of endangered marine mammals, including the collection of quantitative data on thermal physiology, will continue to diversify.
  • Article
    Reviews and syntheses: a framework to observe, understand and project ecosystem response to environmental change in the East Antarctic Southern Ocean
    (European Geosciences Union, 2022-11-23) Gutt, Julian ; Arndt, Stefanie ; Barnes, David Keith Alan ; Bornemann, Horst ; Brey, Thomas ; Eisen, Olaf ; Institute, Hauke ; Griffiths, Huw ; Institute, Christian ; Hain, Stefan ; Hattermann, Tore ; Held, Christoph ; Hoppema, Mario ; Isla, Enrique ; Janout, Markus ; Le Bohec, Céline ; Link, Heike ; Mark, Felix Christopher ; Moreau, Sebastien ; Trimborn, Scarlett ; Van Opzeeland, Ilse ; Pörtner, Hans-Otto ; Schaafsma, Fokje ; Teschke, Katharina ; Tippenhauer, Sana ; Van De Putte, Anton ; Wege, Mia ; Zitterbart, Daniel ; Piepenburg, Dieter
    Systematic long-term studies on ecosystem dynamics are largely lacking from the East Antarctic Southern Ocean, although it is well recognized that they are indispensable to identify the ecological impacts and risks of environmental change. Here, we present a framework for establishing a long-term cross-disciplinary study on decadal timescales. We argue that the eastern Weddell Sea and the adjacent sea to the east, off Dronning Maud Land, is a particularly well suited area for such a study, since it is based on findings from previous expeditions to this region. Moreover, since climate and environmental change have so far been comparatively muted in this area, as in the eastern Antarctic in general, a systematic long-term study of its environmental and ecological state can provide a baseline of the current situation, which will be important for an assessment of future changes from their very onset, with consistent and comparable time series data underpinning and testing models and their projections. By establishing an Integrated East Antarctic Marine Research (IEAMaR) observatory, long-term changes in ocean dynamics, geochemistry, biodiversity, and ecosystem functions and services will be systematically explored and mapped through regular autonomous and ship-based synoptic surveys. An associated long-term ecological research (LTER) programme, including experimental and modelling work, will allow for studying climate-driven ecosystem changes and interactions with impacts arising from other anthropogenic activities. This integrative approach will provide a level of long-term data availability and ecosystem understanding that are imperative to determine, understand, and project the consequences of climate change and support a sound science-informed management of future conservation efforts in the Southern Ocean.
  • Article
    Scaling the laws of thermal imaging-based whale detection
    (American Meteorological Society, 2020-05-08) Zitterbart, Daniel ; Smith, Heather R. ; Flau, MichaeI ; Richter, Sebastian ; Burkhardt, Elke ; Beland, Joseph ; Bennett, Louise ; Cammareri, Alejandro ; Davis, Andrew ; Holst, Meike ; Lanfredi, Caterina ; Michel, Hanna ; Noad, Michael ; Owen, Kylie ; Pacini, Aude F. ; Boebel, Olaf
    Marine mammals are under growing pressure as anthropogenic use of the ocean increases. Ship strikes of large whales and loud underwater sound sources including air guns for marine geophysical prospecting and naval midfrequency sonar are criticized for their possible negative effects on marine mammals. Competent authorities regularly require the implementation of mitigation measures, including vessel speed reductions or shutdown of acoustic sources if marine mammals are sighted in sensitive areas or in predefined exclusion zones around a vessel. To ensure successful mitigation, reliable at-sea detection of animals is crucial. To date, ship-based marine mammal observers are the most commonly implemented detection method; however, thermal (IR) imaging–based automatic detection systems have been used in recent years. This study evaluates thermal imaging–based automatic whale detection technology for its use across different oceans. The performance of this technology is characterized with respect to environmental conditions, and an automatic detection algorithm for whale blows is presented. The technology can detect whales in polar, temperate, and subtropical ocean regimes over distances of up to several kilometers and outperforms marine mammal observers in the number of whales detected. These results show that thermal imaging technology can be used to assist in providing protection for marine mammals against ship strike and acoustic impact across the world’s oceans.