Local Passive Acoustic Monitoring of Narwhal Presence in the Canadian Arctic: A Pilot Project
Keywords:animal behaviour, automated detection, Baffin Island, marine mammal, narwhal, participatory monitoring
Long-term community-based monitoring of narwhals (Monodon monoceros) is needed because narwhals are important to local Inuit and are facing changes in their environment. We examined the suitability of passive acoustic recording for monitoring narwhals, using data gathered in the Canadian Arctic from an autonomous acoustic recorder (Repulse Bay, 2006) and a hand-held digital recorder (Koluktoo Bay, 2006 – 08). We found a relationship between the number of narwhals observed passing a fixed point and the number of calls heard. In addition, we found that an automated call detector could isolate segments of recording containing narwhal vocalizations over long recording periods containing non-target sound, thus decreasing the time spent on the analysis. Collectively, these results suggest that combining passive acoustic sampling with an automated call detector offers a useful approach for local monitoring of the presence and relative abundance of narwhals.