Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

Oceanic drivers of sei whale distribution in the North Atlantic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

DOI

Open Access permissions

Open

Author(s)

Lucy Houghton, Nadya Ramirez-Martinez, Bjarni Mikkelsen, Gísli Víkingsson, Thorvaldur Gunnlaugsson, Nils Øien, Philip Hammond

School/Research organisations

Abstract

This study investigated the oceanic drivers of sei whale (Balaenoptera borealis) distribution in the central and eastern North Atlantic, and explored how distribution may have changed over almost three decades. Cetacean sightings data were available from Icelandic, Faroese and Norwegian surveys conducted throughout the central and eastern North Atlantic during summer between 1987 and 2015. Effective strip half width was estimated from the data to take account of variation in detection probability. Spatially-referenced environmental variables used as predictors in generalised additive models of sei whale relative density included: relief-related variables seabed depth, slope and aspect; monthly-varying physical oceanographic variables sea surface temperature (SST), mixed layer depth, bottom temperature, salinity, and sea surface height anomaly (SSH); and monthly-varying biological oceanographic variables chlorophyll-a concentration and primary productivity. Preliminary analysis considered which month (March-August) in the dynamic oceanographic variables explained most variability in sei whale density. Models including all variables (“full models”) could only be run for 1998-2015 because data for several variables were missing in earlier years. “Simple models" including only relief-related variables and SST were therefore run for 1987-89, and also for 1998-2015 for comparison. The best-fitting full model for 1998-2015 retained the covariates depth, May SST, May bottom temperature, July salinity, July SSH and July primary productivity. Of these, depth, May SST and July SSH were the strongest predictors of sei whale density. In the simple models for both 1987-89 and 1998-2015, depth (especially), May SST and seabed slope were the strongest predictors of sei whale density. The highest densities of sei whales were predicted in the Irminger Sea and over the Charles-Gibbs Fracture Zone; a pattern driven by large negative SSH, deep water (>1500m) and polar-temperate SST (5-12oC). There was some inter-annual variability in predicted distribution and there appears to be a northward expansion in distribution consistent with prey species responding to ocean warming. The models could be used to predict future distribution of sei whales based on future environmental conditions predicted by climate models.
Close

Details

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
JournalNAMMCO Scientific Publications
Volume11
Early online date6 May 2020
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 6 May 2020

    Research areas

  • Distribution, Habitat, Cetacean surveys, Sei whale, North Atlantic, Generalized additive models, Predictive maps

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. Assessing pinniped bycatch mortality with uncertainty in abundance and post-release mortality: a case study from Chile

    Punt, A. E., Sepúlveda, M., Siple, M. C., Moore, J. R., Francis, T. B., Hammond, P. S., Heinemann, D., Long, K. J., Oliva, D., Reeves, R. R., Sigurðsson, G. M., Víkingsson, G., Wade, P. R., Williams, R. & Zerbini, A. N., Mar 2021, In: Fisheries Research. 235, 14 p., 105816.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  2. Can we manage marine mammal bycatch effectively in low-data environments?

    Punt, A. E., Siple, M. C., Francis, T. B., Hammond, P. S., Heinemann, D., Long, K. J., Moore, J., Sepulveda, M., Reeves, R. R., Sigurðsson, G. M., Víkingsson, G., Wade, P. R., Williams, R. & Zerbini, A. N., 10 Dec 2020, (Accepted/In press) In: Journal of Applied Ecology.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  3. Robustness of potential biological removal to monitoring, environmental, and management uncertainties

    Punt, A. E., Siple, M., Francis, T. B., Hammond, P. S., Heinemann, D., Long, K. J., Moore, J. E., Sepúlveda, M., Reeves, R. R., Sigurðsson, G. M., Vikingsson, G., Wade, P. R., Williams, R. & Zerbini, A. N., 10 Sep 2020, In: ICES Journal of Marine Science. Advance Article, 17 p., fsaa096.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  4. Evaluating management strategies for marine mammal populations: An example for multiple species and multiple fishing sectors in Iceland

    Punt, A. E., Siple, M., Sigurðsson, G. M., Víkingsson, G., Francis, T. B., Granquist, S. M., Hammond, P. S., Heinemann, D., Long, K. J., Moore, J. E., Sepúlveda, M., Reeves, R. R., Wade, P. R., Williams, R. & Zerbini, A. N., 4 Apr 2020, In: Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences. 77, 8, p. 1316-1331 16 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  5. Changing distribution of the east coast of Scotland bottlenose dolphin population and the challenges of area-based management

    Arso Civil, M., Quick, N. J., Cheney, B., Pirotta, E., Thompson, P. M. & Hammond, P. S., 6 Sep 2019, In: Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems. 29, S1, p. 178-196 19 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Related by journal

  1. An evaluation of age estimation using teeth from South Asian River dolphins (Platanistidae)

    Lockyer, C. & Braulik, G., 23 Dec 2014, In: NAMMCO Scientific Publications. 10, 25 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  2. The status of harbour seals (Phoca vitulina) in the United Kingdom

    Thompson, D., Duck, C. D. & Lonergan, M. E., 2010, In: NAMMCO Scientific Publications. 8, p. 117-128 12 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  3. Density surface fitting to estimate the abundance of humpback whales based on the NASS-95 and NASS- 2001 aerial and shipboard surveys

    Paxton, C. G. M., Burt, M. L., Hedley, S. L., Víkingsson, G. A., Gunnlaugsson, T. & Desportes, G., 2009, In: NAMMCO Scientific Publications. 7

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

ID: 267963828

Top