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Media opportunity: Listening for North Atlantic right whales yields important insight into where the endangered marine giants are in Canadian waters: Dalhousie University researcher

Posted by Communications and Marketing on March 15, 2023 in News

The movements of North Atlantic right whales have eluded researchers who have tried for decades to pinpoint their habitats in a bid to protect the critically endangered mammals from their greatest threats.

It is known that some of the slow-moving giants have shifted northward into the Gulf of St. Lawrence, but little is known about their migratory corridors or where the rest of the roughly 340 remaining whales go.

New research out of Dalhousie University is filling in some of those gaps with the help of the whales themselves.

Delphine Durette-Morin, who was a MSc student in Oceanography at Dalhousie at the time, deployed moorings and gliders throughout the Atlantic continental shelf from 2015 to 2017 to see if they would capture upcalls and other right whale sounds. That data would tell scientists where the animals are and when, and help focus measures to protect them from ship strikes and gear entanglements.

The sound recordings indicated that the whales were not in the Labrador Sea and Newfoundland Shelf during the study period, even though their preferred prey was in those areas. They were detected on the Scotian Shelf nearly year-round, but only in the Cabot Strait from May through December.

Durette-Morin is available to discuss the findings and how they can serve as both a baseline to determine if future changes occur and a tool for agencies that manage such things as vessel speeds and fishing activities.


Media contact:

Alison Auld
Senior Research Reporter
Communications, Marketing and Creative Services
Dalhousie University
Cell: 1-902-220-0491


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