The Department of the Navy has proposed installing a 500-nm2 Undersea Warfare Training Range (USWTR) along the Atlantic coast to facilitate anti-submarine warfare training in shallow waters. Four potential sites have been selected, including one off southeastern North Carolina in Onslow Bay. The Scripps Whale Acoustics Lab, Duke University, UNC Wilmington, and the University of St. Andrews are implementing a monitoring plan to provide baseline data on the density, abundance, distribution and season movements of marine mammals and sea turtles in and around the proposed site. An important component of this plan involves passive acoustic monitoring of vocalizing cetaceans using HARPs. The first HARP was deployed in October 2007 at site A. It was moved to site B for its second deployment and subsequently returned to site A for further deployments. In November 2009, a second HARP was added at site C. Monitoring with both of these instruments is on-going. Data from these HARPs are allowing us to describe temporal trends and patterns of habitat use of vocalizing cetaceans in Onslow Bay. To date, we have detected sperm whales, pilot whales, Risso’s dolphins, and unidentified odontocetes, most of which are probably either bottlenose dolphins or Atlantic spotted dolphins.
|Credit: Lynne Williams|