Authors

Anna Petracca

Document Type

Internship Report

Publication Date

Spring 2015

Abstract

Despite being on the Endangered Species List since 1973 the humpback whale (Megaptera Novaeanglia) species is still in danger of extinction. For this reason, understanding fully the habitat use and distribution of these whales is critical to protecting them efficiently. The Gulf of Maine area off the coast of New England, United States is a rich habitat for humpback whales as well as other species of baleen whales such as fin and minke whales and other smaller cetaceans such as harbor porpoises, common dolphins and Atlantic white -sided dolphins. This area, in particular the Stellwagen Bank region, was the focus of this study. Data from 2009 to 20133 provided by the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Group was analyzed to describe the spatial and temporal habitat use of the species mentioned previously. Using geographic information systems (GIS) important habitat use patterns were revealed. There were high density areas of humpbacks close to the shore of Provincetown, in between the southern edge of Stellwagen Bank and the coast. Importantly, this area is outside of the protection of the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Additionally, increasing numbers of humpback whales have been sighted along the back side of Cape Cod and within the Great South Channel region. This study has revealed important habitat areas in need of protection for all cetacean species

Comments

Department: MAF

MPS Track: MCO

Location: Gulf of Maine (Stellwagon Bank)

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