Autonomous Investigations of Baleen Whale Ecology


Mark Baumgartner, WHOI Biology Dept
Dave Fratantoni, WHOI Physical Oceanography Dept

Awarded:  February 2006

The primary objective of our study will be to determine the biological and physical processes that govern North Atlantic right whale distribution in the Great South Channel.  We will conduct a pilot study on the NOAA Ship Albatross IV during April and May 2005 to examine right whale ecology on three spatial scales: hundreds of meters, kilometers, and tens of kilometers using existing and new observing systems, including the WHOI gliders.  We will conduct an exploratory analysis of the data to develop hypotheses about the physical and biological mechanisms that aggregating the right whales prey, the copepod Calanus finmarchicus.  We will then refine our sampling strategy so that we can test these new hypotheses in subsequent field seasons.  We plan to leverage the success of this pilot study to obtain funding for a 3-year field effort.