Gulf of Mexico Sperm Whale Cruise

Goal: To localize and track the movements of sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) in and out of the Gulf of Mexico.

Time Period: 2012

Our Role: To provide assistance with the passive acoustics component of this research effort.

Researchers from Bio-Waves, Inc. participated in a study to locate and satellite-tag sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) in the eastern portion of the Gulf of Mexico (from Pascagoula, MS to Key West, FL). The primary goal of this study was to track sperm whale movements in and out of the Gulf of Mexico. Bio-waves provided research staff and passive acoustic equipment used in the study, including towed hydrophone arrays and monitoring equipment. Using the towed hydrophone arrays, researchers were able to localize and track these deep-diving mammals during both daylight hours and at night. Night-time acoustic operations were especially beneficial in maximizing survey effort, as they allowed animals to be detected and tracked when visual monitoring could not be conducted. The passive acoustic monitoring and localization used in this study was very effective in locating animals for tagging, and also for determining a general distribution pattern within the study area.

Sponsor: NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), Southeast Fisheries Science Center (SEFSC)

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