Palmyra Island Cetacean Ecosystem Assessment Survey (PICEAS)

Goal: To assess the abundance, distribution and habitat of marine mammals in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) around Palmyra Atoll and in the waters between Oahu and Palmyra.

Time Period: 2011-2012

Our Role: To provide research personnel to collect passive acoustic monitoring data.

During the fall of 2011 and spring of 2012, Bio-Waves, Inc. provided researchers and technical support for NOAA's Pacific Island Fisheries Science Center line transect surveys of marine mammals. The goal of this research effort was to assess the abundance, distribution, and environment of cetaceans (specifically false killer whales, Pseudorca crassidens) in the waters of the U.S. EEZ around Palmyra Atoll, as well as areas between Oahu and Palmyra. Bio-Waves personnel assisted in the deployment of a four element towed hydrophone array which was used to monitor, localize and track cetacean groups. Bioacousticians monitored both mid- and high-frequency hydrophones in real time to identify false killer whales, while simultaneously noting the presence of other species. Passive acoustic methods were used to help determine the number of false killer whale subgroups present during visual encounters. Gathering information on stock and population sizes of false killer whales is of particular importance due to their interactions with the Hawaiian fisheries near Palmyra Atoll.

Collaborators: NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center (PIFSC)

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