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SEASONAL OCCURRENCE OF NORTH ATLANTIC RIGHT WHALE (EUBALAENA GLACIALIS) VOCALIZATIONS AT TWO SITES ON THE SCOTIAN SHELF

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Abstract

A year-long acoustic survey for critically endangered North Atlantic right whales was conducted at two sites on the central and western Scotian Shelf. Autonomous hydrophones recorded sound continuously from July 2004 to August 2005. Right whale contact calls (upcalls) were identified using automatic recognition software, and the resulting detections were checked manually. Substantial numbers of hours with upcalls were observed at both sites, with approximately four times as many hours with calls at the western site as the central one. Calls occurred mainly from August through October, with the earliest calls in late June and the latest at the end of December at both sites. In addition to this seasonal trend, there was a significant diel pattern in calling at the central site but not at the more westerly site. Results are analyzed in light of feeding ecology and broad-scale movements of right whales.

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