Esch H. Carter

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H. Carter

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  • Preprint
    Evidence of a North Atlantic right whale calf (Eubalaena glacialis) born in northeastern U.S. waters
    ( 2008-08-30) Patrician, Melissa R. ; Biedron, Ingrid S. ; Esch, H. Carter ; Wenzel, Frederick W. ; Cooper, Lindsay A. ; Hamilton, Philip K. ; Glass, Allison H. ; Baumgartner, Mark F.
    The general temporal and geographical patterns of North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis) calving events have been clarified during the last quarter century of research (Kraus and Rolland 2007). Right whales give birth to a single calf every three to five years after a twelve- to thirteen-month gestation period (Best 1994; Kraus and Hatch 2001). Most calves are born between December and March in the coastal waters of the southeastern U.S., the only known calving ground for this species (Kraus et al. 2007; Winn et al. 1986). Although historical whaling records suggest that there were once two winter calving grounds, one off the southeastern U.S. and the other off northwestern Africa, it appears that only the former is still used today (Notarbartolo di Sciara et al. 1998; Reeves and Mitchell 1986; 1988). In the late winter, right whales leave the calving grounds and migrate to their foraging grounds off the northeastern U.S. and Canadian Maritimes. North Atlantic right whales can be found in Cape Cod and Massachusetts Bays throughout the late winter and early spring (Hamilton and Mayo 1990; Mayo and Marx 1990; Schevill et al. 1986), in the Great South Channel during mid-spring to early summer (Kenney et al. 1995), and in the Bay of Fundy (Kraus et al. 1982) and on the Scotian Shelf (Mitchell et al. 1986; Stone et al. 1988) during the summer and fall. Some individuals (mostly pregnant females and juveniles) return to the calving grounds off the southeastern U.S. in December and January, but the location of the rest of the population during those months is currently unknown (although recent evidence suggests that right whales are present in the Gulf of Maine and on the Scotian Shelf throughout the winter (Mellinger et al. 2007; T. Cole pers comm. ; S. Van Parijs pers comm. ).
  • Article
    Low frequency vocalizations attributed to sei whales (Balaenoptera borealis)
    (Acoustical Society of America, 2008-08) Baumgartner, Mark F. ; Van Parijs, Sofie M. ; Wenzel, Frederick W. ; Tremblay, Christopher J. ; Esch, H. Carter ; Warde, Ann M.
    Low frequency (<100 Hz) downsweep vocalizations were repeatedly recorded from ocean gliders east of Cape Cod, MA in May 2005. To identify the species responsible for this call, arrays of acoustic recorders were deployed in this same area during 2006 and 2007. 70 h of collocated visual observations at the center of each array were used to compare the localized occurrence of this call to the occurrence of three baleen whale species: right, humpback, and sei whales. The low frequency call was significantly associated only with the occurrence of sei whales. On average, the call swept from 82 to 34 Hz over 1.4 s and was most often produced as a single call, although pairs and (more rarely) triplets were occasionally detected. Individual calls comprising the pairs were localized to within tens of meters of one another and were more similar to one another than to contemporaneous calls by other whales, suggesting that paired calls may be produced by the same animal. A synthetic kernel was developed to facilitate automatic detection of this call using spectrogram-correlation methods. The optimal kernel missed 14% of calls, and of all the calls that were automatically detected, 15% were false positives.
  • Article
    Associations between North Pacific right whales and their zooplanktonic prey in the southeastern Bering Sea
    (Inter-Research, 2013-09-17) Baumgartner, Mark F. ; Lysiak, Nadine S. J. ; Esch, H. Carter ; Zerbini, Alexandre N. ; Berchok, Catherine L. ; Clapham, Phillip J.
    Due to the seriously endangered status of North Pacific right whales Eubalaena japonica, an improved understanding of the environmental factors that influence the species’ distribution and occurrence is needed to better assess the effects of climate change and industrial activities on the population. Associations among right whales, zooplankton, and the physical environment were examined in the southeastern Bering Sea during the summers of 2008 and 2009. Sampling with nets, an optical plankton counter, and a video plankton recorder in proximity to whales as well as along cross-isobath surveys indicated that the copepod Calanus marshallae is the primary prey of right whales in this region. Acoustic detections of right whales from sonobuoys deployed during the cross-isobath surveys were strongly associated with C. marshallae abundance, and peak abundance estimates of C. marshallae in 2.5 m depth strata near a tagged right whale ranged as high as 106 copepods m-3. The smaller Pseudocalanus spp. was higher in abundance than C. marshallae in proximity to right whales, but significantly lower in biomass. High concentrations of C. marshallae occurred in both the surface and bottom layers of the highly stratified water column, but there was no evidence of diel vertical migration. Instead, occurrence of C. marshallae in the bottom layer was associated with elevated near-bottom light attenuance and chlorophyll fluorescence, suggesting C. marshallae may aggregate at depth while feeding on resuspended phytodetritus. Despite the occasional presence of strong horizontal gradients in hydrographic properties, no association was found between C. marshallae and either fronts or phytoplankton distribution.
  • Preprint
    Quantifying parameters of bottlenose dolphin signature whistles
    ( 2009-01-06) Esch, H. Carter ; Sayigh, Laela S. ; Wells, Randall S.
    Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) produce individually distinctive vocalizations called signature whistles, first described by Melba and David Caldwell (1965). The Caldwells observed that isolated, captive dolphins produced whistles with individually distinctive frequency contours, or patterns of frequency changes over time, and hypothesized that these whistles were used to transmit identity information (Caldwell and Caldwell 1965; Caldwell et al. 1990). Since the Caldwell’s work with isolated, captive dolphins, several studies have documented signature whistles in a variety of contexts, including free-swimming captive dolphins (e.g., Janik and Slater 1998; Tyack 1986), briefly restrained wild dolphins (e.g., Sayigh et al. 1990, 2007, Watwood et al. 2005), and free-ranging wild dolphins (e.g., Watwood 2003; Watwood et al. 2004, 2005; Buckstaff 2004; Cook et al. 2004). Janik and Slater (1998) demonstrated that signature whistles are used to maintain group cohesion, thus supporting the Caldwells’ hypothesis. Janik et al. (2006) verified experimentally that bottlenose dolphins respond to signature whistles produced by familiar conspecifics even after voice featured have been removed, reinforcing the notion that the contour of a signature whistle carries identity information.