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Project Information

Title: Effects of EVOS on the Abundance and Distribution of Humpback Whales in PWS

Project Year and Number: 1992: MM01

Other Fiscal Years and Numbers for this Project: 1990: MM01, 1989: MM01

Principal Investigator (PI): Marilyn Dahlheim, NOAA

Assisting Personnel: Olga Von Ziegesar-Matkin

Research Location: Prince William Sound

Restoration Category: Damage Assessment

Injured Resources Addressed: Not Specified

Abstract: During 1989 and 1990, photographs of individual humpback whales occurring in Prince William Sound and Southeast Alaska were collected from May to September to assess the impact of the Exxon Valdez oil spill on humpback whale life history and ecology. In Prince William Sound, 547 days were spent traversing approximately 20,000 nautical miles in search of whales or while photographing whales. In Southeast Alaska, 230 days were spent conducting field research during the 1989 season to determine if Prince William Sound humpback whales were relocating to other areas.

In 1989, photographic analysis of Prince William Sound humpbacks revealed 59 identifiable whales in 119 encounters. In Southeast Alaska, 516 whales were identified in 1989, based on 2t448 encounters. During the 1990 season, photographic analysis of Prince William Sound humpbacks revealed 66 identifiable whales in 201 encounters. The total count represents the largest number of individual humpback whales ever photographed in Prince William Sound. A decline in the number of Prince William Sound humpback whales was not identified.

The distribution of humpback whales in Prince William Sound during the 1989 season was compared to their distribution in 1988. In 1988, more humpback whales used Lower Knight Island Passage area. The effect of increased vessel and aircraft traffic may be responsible for the whale distribution pattern observed in 1989. The distribution of whales in Prince William Sound during the 1990 season was compared to previous data. No apparent shift in distribution was noted in 1990. No observations were made of humpback whales swimming through oil. Despite considerable effort, Prince William Sound humpback whales were not observed during concurrent photographic studies in Southeast Alaska.

Synthesis of these data and the review of available scientific literature will allow the preparation of a final report which provides an interpretation of the results. This information may be useful to help manage the recovery of the North Pacific's endangered humpback whale population. Accordingly preparation of a final report is warranted.


Keywords

Geographic Regions Gulf of Alaska
Prince William Sound
Species Marine Mammals - Cetaceans (whales, dolphin, porpoises)
Fields of Expertise Ecology

Proposal: View PDF (17 KB)

Funding Recommendations: View

Funding Detail For: 1992

Quarterly Project Tasks For: 1992

Annual Report: 1992: Not Applicable

Final Report: View

Publications from this Project: None Available

More information may be available for this project under other years:

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Project Number Proposal Annual Reports Final Report Data
1990: MM01 Not Available 1990: Not Applicable
See Project MM01 See Project MM01
1989: MM01 Not Available 1989: Not Applicable
See Project MM01 See Project MM01