Abundance of cetaceans in the European Atlantic: results from SCANS-III aerial and ship surveys in 2016
Speaker: Phil Hammond (SMRU)
A series of large scale surveys for cetaceans in European Atlantic waters was initiated in 1994 in the North Sea and adjacent waters (project SCANS) and extended in 2005 to all shelf waters south of 62°N (SCANS-II) and in 2007 to offshore waters (project CODA). Objectives were to obtain robust estimates of abundance to place estimates of bycatch and other removals in a population context and to initiate a time series to assess changes in distribution and abundance at an appropriately large spatial scale. In July/August 2016, the third survey in the series, SCANS-III, was conducted using seven aircraft and three ships, covering an area of approximately 1.8 million km^2 from the Strait of Gibraltar to Vestfjorden, Norway. Data were collected using the circle-back method for aerial and two-team tracker method for ship survey to correct for animals missed on the transect line. In this talk, I will present design-based abundance estimates for a range of species from harbour porpoise to fin whale and very simple trend and power analysis for harbour porpoise, white-beaked dolphin and minke whale in the North Sea, for which there are three or more comparable estimates of regional abundance. These results have been used to inform assessment of Good Environmental Status (GES) for cetaceans in European Atlantic waters under OSPAR coordination for the EU’s Marine Strategy Framework Directive.