Using data and surveys of Atlantic Coast, scientists identify areas of high marine mammal diversity

A fin whale and common dolphins seen during a New England Aquarium aerial survey of Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument in 2020. Credit: New England Aquarium Sightings of more than 1 million marine mammals in the federally protected Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument and sites along the Atlantic Coast have been…

Using data and surveys of Atlantic Coast, Aquarium scientists identify areas of high marine mammal diversity
A fin whale and basic dolphins considered at some stage in a Unusual England Aquarium aerial watch of Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine Nationwide Monument in 2020. Credit ranking: Unusual England Aquarium

Sightings of higher than 1 million marine mammals within the federally safe Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine Nationwide Monument and sites alongside the Atlantic Cruise believe been old-popular to call areas of excessive marine mammal selection. These findings underscore the importance of ocean conservation as these waters face rising impacts from human activities.

In a brand sleek watch printed in Conservation Science and Observe, Unusual England Aquarium scientists reviewed marine mammal sightings to derive a higher figuring out of habitat reveal alongside the U.S. East Cruise. The study personnel old-popular North Atlantic Impartial appropriate Whale Consortium recordsdata from aerial and boat surveys performed by 49 organizations between 1979 and 2020 to calculate marine mammal species selection within the North Atlantic Ocean between Florida and Nova Scotia, Canada. The recordsdata situation contained 189,175 sightings of higher than 1 million animals from 30 unique species or species groupings.

High species selection occurred extra usually within the northern section of the Atlantic Cruise, particularly spherical the Monument, on the threshold of the continental shelf, and at some stage within the Gulf of Maine and Georges Financial institution, they chanced on. “It changed into very spicy to glimpse these results,” acknowledged Brooke C. Hodge, the watch’s lead creator and Companion Scientist within the Spatial Ecology, Mapping, and Review (EcoMap) Program for the Anderson Cabot Heart for Ocean Existence on the Unusual England Aquarium.. “Our study exhibits us that the Monument is various compared with the East Cruise. It is clearly wisely-sited and protects a obvious and various marine mammal neighborhood.”

Final October, the Biden-Harris Administration reinstated the Monument’s federal protection set aside, which had been eliminated by the earlier administration. The nearly 5,000-square mile underwater sanctuary is positioned 130 miles southeast of Cape Cod and is dwelling to tantalizing deep-sea ecosystems that consist of coral reefs, fish, and endangered whales. In 2016, Aquarium scientists supplied sturdy scientific evidence that helped the Monument’s preliminary designation below President Obama. In 2021, Aquarium scientists explored the effects of casting off protections from the Monument and demonstrated that opening the Monument to fishing elevated the danger of entanglement, bycatch, and habitat destruction for species from the sea surface to sea floor.

In this watch, scientists came upon that species selection changed into best within the northern and mid-Atlantic areas with steep continental shelf edges. Canyons and areas with excessive salinity and low temperatures also had a excessive form of marine mammals. “Neatly designed and effectively managed marine safe areas can lead to conservation success,” Hodge acknowledged. In the watch, the authors wrote: “Our analyses make contributions to efforts to designate MPAs (marine safe areas) to preserve habitat that’s predominant for keeping species by identifying drivers of biodiversity and doable sites for keeping 30 percent of the plant by 2030.” The Biden-Harris Administration targets to offer protection to 30 percent of federal U.S. lands and waters by 2030.

“Figuring out MPAs in our watch set aside is severe because U.S. East Cruise waters face intensive human reveal from fishing, transport, planned wind vitality pattern, and aspects that give a retract to marine mammal foraging are field to particular threats,” researchers wrote within the watch. “The Gulf of Maine is one of essentially the most swiftly warming marine ecosystems within the sphere, and evidence of changes in productivity believe already been noticed. Designating MPAs and organising efficient administration measures to fulfill the aim of shielding areas of sigh importance to biodiversity are wished to offer protection to marine mammals and the ecosystems on which they depend.” On the opposite hand, the authors acknowledge that additional study is wished to extra entirely portray marine mammal species selection in these areas and to evaluate the biodiversity of the total flora and fauna neighborhood and the habitat, comparable to seabirds, deep-self invertebrates, deep-sea corals, sponges, and fish.

The watch’s coauthors consist of plenty of Unusual England Aquarium scientists: Daniel E. Pendleton, Research Scientist; Laura C. Ganley, Postdoctoral Companion Research Scientist; Orfhlaith “Orla” O’Brien, Companion Scientist; Scott D. Kraus, Emeritus Scientist; and Jessica V. Redfern, Senior Scientist and Chair of the Spatial Ecology, Mapping, and Review Program. Ester Quintana-Rizzo of Simmons College also contributed to the study.



Extra recordsdata: Brooke C. Hodge et al, Figuring out predictors of species selection to handbook designation of marine safe areas, Conservation Science and Observe (2022). DOI: 10.1111/csp2.12665

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