Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

The effect of sea-ice loss on beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) in West Greenland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

An aerial survey was conducted to estimate the abundance of belugas (Delphinapterus leucas) on their wintering ground in West Greenland in March–April 2006 and 2008. The survey was conducted as a double platform aerial line transect survey, and sampled approximately 17% of the total survey area of ca. 125 000 km2. The abundance of belugas was 10 595 (95% confidence interval 4904–24 650). The largest abundance was found at the northern part of Store Hellefiske Bank, at the eastern edge of the Baffin Bay pack ice, a pattern similar to that found in eight systematic surveys conducted since 1981. A clear relationship between decreasing sea-ice cover and increasing offshore distance of beluga sightings was established from all previous surveys, suggesting that belugas expand their distribution westward as new areas on the banks of West Greenland open up earlier in spring with reduced sea-ice coverage or early annual ice recession. This is in contrast to the relatively confined distribution of belugas near the coast in limited open areas in the early 1980s, when sea-ice cover was greater. However, the effects of the changes in coastal availability of belugas can also be observed with the correlation between catches from the local Inuit hunt and sea-ice cover, where the catches increased significantly with increasing sea-ice coverage during the period 1954–2006. These results, based on nearly 30 years of dedicated survey effort, are among the first available evidence showing a shift in distribution of an Arctic cetacean in response to changes in sea-ice coverage.
Close

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)198-208
Number of pages11
JournalPolar Research
Volume29
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2010

    Research areas

  • Beluga, Climate change, Line transect, Sea ice, West Greenland

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

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. From distance sampling to spatial capture-recapture

    Borchers, D. L. & Marques, T. A., Oct 2017, In : Advances in Statistical Analysis. 101, 4, p. 475-494 20 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Model-based approaches to deal with detectability: a comment on Hutto (2016a)

    Marques, T. A., Thomas, L., Kery, M., Buckland, S. T., Borchers, D. L., Rexstad, E., Fewster, R. M., Mackenzie, D. I., Royle, J. A., Guillera-Arroita, G., Handel, C. M., Pavlacky, D. C. & Camp, R. J., Jul 2017, In : Ecological Applications. 27, 5, p. 1694-1698 5 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalLetter

  3. An efficient acoustic density estimation method with human detectors applied to gibbons in Cambodia

    Kidney, D., Rawson, B. M., Borchers, D. L., Stevenson, B., Marques, T. A. & Thomas, L., 19 May 2016, In : PLoS One. 11, 5, p. 1-16 16 p., e0155066.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. A unifying model for capture-recapture and distance sampling surveys of wildlife populations

    Borchers, D. L., Stevenson, B. C., Kidney, D., Thomas, L. & Marques, T. A., 2015, In : Journal of the American Statistical Association. 110, 509, p. 195-204

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  5. Distance Sampling

    Marques, T. A., Buckland, S. T., Borchers, D. L., Rexstad, E. & Thomas, L., 1 Dec 2014, International Encyclopedia of Statistical Science. Lovric, M. (ed.). Springer, p. 398 400 p.

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Related by journal

  1. Corrigendum: The number and distribution of polar bears in the western Barents Sea

    Aars, J., Marques, T. A., Lone, K., Andersen, M., Wiig, Ø., Fløystad, I. M. B., Hagen, S. B. & Buckland, S. T., 22 May 2018, In : Polar Research. 37, 1, 1457880.

    Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate

  2. The number and distribution of polar bears in the western Barents Sea

    Aars, J., Marques, T. A., Lone, K., Andersen, M., Wiig, Ø., Fløystad, I. M. B., Hagen, S. B. & Buckland, S. T., 9 Oct 2017, In : Polar Research. 36, 15 p., 1374125.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. The salinity: delta O-18 water relationship in Kongsfjorden, western Spitsbergen

    MacLachlan, S. E., Cottier, F. R., Austin, W. E. N. & Howe, J. A., 2007, In : Polar Research. 26, p. 160-167 8 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. Deep-water renewal in a Scottish fjord: Temperature, salinity and oxygen isotopes

    Austin, W. E. N. & Inall, ME., 2002, In : Polar Research. 21, 2, p. 251-258 7 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

ID: 3401802