Event Title

Hearing the call: using acoustics and citizen scientists to monitor harbor porpoises

Presentation Abstract

There are many challenging obstacles involved in researching wild marine mammal populations. Finding the right combination of accurate and cost-effective research methods is crucial. The harbor porpoise is a shy, enigmatic species making traditional boat based methods of monitoring very difficult. The Pacific Biodiversity Institute (PBI) has initiated a unique program combining two emerging research tools, passive acoustics and citizen science, to monitor the harbor porpoise population in the inland waters of Puget Sound. A passive acoustic monitor (PAM) is deployed in water at Burrow’s Pass to allow researchers to continuously record cetacean presence in an area for months at a time by documenting vocalizations. To compliment this acoustic research instrument, PBI has trained many local residents to be Citizen Scientists and conduct land-based observations in Burrow’s Pass, documenting harbor porpoise presence, position and movement. This data complements the PAM data (supporting the validity and usefulness of the PAMs), and provides information about the population that cannot be collected by the PAM (such as movement patterns, group sizes and group composition). The acoustic data collected, combined with continued visual observations by citizen scientists, is used to assess diurnal, seasonal and annual trends in the harbor porpoise population. This type of long-term monitoring provides data that is vital to protection and conservation efforts. The involvement of citizen scientists also has the added benefit of fostering a sense of responsibility and care for the environment that facilitates science-society-policy interactions. PBI’s harbor porpoise research program combines PAM and citizen science to create an informative and cost-effective way to monitor a marine mammal population and can be used as a model for future studies on similar populations.

Session Title

Session S-05I: Education, Communication, and Citizen Science

Conference Track

Citizens/Education

Conference Name

Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference (2014 : Seattle, Wash.)

Document Type

Event

Start Date

1-5-2014 10:30 AM

End Date

1-5-2014 12:00 PM

Location

Room 604

Contributing Repository

Digital content made available by University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University.

Rights

This resource is displayed for educational purposes only and may be subject to U.S. and international copyright laws. For more information about rights or obtaining copies of this resource, please contact University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA 98225-9103, USA (360-650-7534; heritage.resources@wwu.edu) and refer to the collection name and identifier. Any materials cited must be attributed to the Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference Records, University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University.

Type

Text

Language

English

Format

application/pdf

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May 1st, 10:30 AM May 1st, 12:00 PM

Hearing the call: using acoustics and citizen scientists to monitor harbor porpoises

Room 604

There are many challenging obstacles involved in researching wild marine mammal populations. Finding the right combination of accurate and cost-effective research methods is crucial. The harbor porpoise is a shy, enigmatic species making traditional boat based methods of monitoring very difficult. The Pacific Biodiversity Institute (PBI) has initiated a unique program combining two emerging research tools, passive acoustics and citizen science, to monitor the harbor porpoise population in the inland waters of Puget Sound. A passive acoustic monitor (PAM) is deployed in water at Burrow’s Pass to allow researchers to continuously record cetacean presence in an area for months at a time by documenting vocalizations. To compliment this acoustic research instrument, PBI has trained many local residents to be Citizen Scientists and conduct land-based observations in Burrow’s Pass, documenting harbor porpoise presence, position and movement. This data complements the PAM data (supporting the validity and usefulness of the PAMs), and provides information about the population that cannot be collected by the PAM (such as movement patterns, group sizes and group composition). The acoustic data collected, combined with continued visual observations by citizen scientists, is used to assess diurnal, seasonal and annual trends in the harbor porpoise population. This type of long-term monitoring provides data that is vital to protection and conservation efforts. The involvement of citizen scientists also has the added benefit of fostering a sense of responsibility and care for the environment that facilitates science-society-policy interactions. PBI’s harbor porpoise research program combines PAM and citizen science to create an informative and cost-effective way to monitor a marine mammal population and can be used as a model for future studies on similar populations.