Marine mammals and climate change

Notes on a talk by Sue Moore entitled “Marine Mammals: Insight to climate change through surveys and song” at UW (16:00-16:45)

Overarching question: are grey whales a sentinel species to climate change in the Arctic and North Pacific?

Polar bears now expected to be down 30% by 2050.

Arctic ice down 3Mkm^2 from 7M.  10x increase in walrus haul-out on land in Russia in 2007.

Grey whales

  • ~18-10k whales (delisted in 1992)
  • 99-00 mortality event was a puzzle (post 97-98 El Nino)
  • 1967 abundance estimates (3%/yr, steady until event)
  • Six observations tell a story
    1. 1 week delay after ’78 NPAC shift (Rugh et al., 2001)
    2. calving increases in years after ‘early’ ice-free Chirikov Basin (Perryman et al., 2002) — due to early access to feeding in Chirikov
    3. fewer calves in lagoons after ’98 El nino (Urban et al.); more calves sighted off S CA…
    4. Surveys in 2002 vs 81-85, 17x drop in central Chirikov, but many 100s further north in Chukchi Sea (Moore et al, 2003)
    5. 10-100s of greys feeding year round offshore Kodiak Island, AK (Kate Wynne)
    6. ARPS recorded grey whale calls through the winter (Bioscience cover; Moore et al., 2006; Stafford et al., 2007)
  • Acoustic tools: HARP and SeaGlider
  • Kristin Laidre recorded bowhead whales song in March with sonobuoy (main period of conception)

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