Spatial Analysis of Beaked Whale Foraging During Two 12 kHz Multibeam Echosounder Surveys

TitleSpatial Analysis of Beaked Whale Foraging During Two 12 kHz Multibeam Echosounder Surveys
Publication TypeJournal Article
AuthorsKates Varghese, H, Lowell, K, Miksis-Olds, J, DiMarzio, N, Moretti, D, Mayer, LA
JournalFrontiers in Marine Science
Date PublishedAugust 25
KeywordsBACI, beaked whale behavior, GLC approach, multibeam echosounder, spatial autocorrelation

To add to the growing information about the effect of multibeam echosounder (MBES) operation on marine mammals, a study was conducted to assess the spatial foraging effort of Cuvier’s beaked whales during two MBES surveys conducted in January of 2017 and 2019 off of San Clemente Island, California. The MBES surveys took place on the Southern California Antisubmarine Warfare Range (SOAR), which contains an array of 89 hydrophones covering an area of approximately 1800 km2 over which foraging beaked whales were detected. A spatial autocorrelation analysis of foraging effort was conducted using the Moran’s I (global) and the Getis-Ord Gi∗ (local) statistics, to understand the animals’ spatial use of the entire SOAR, as well as smaller areas, respectively, within the SOAR Before, During, and After the two MBES surveys. In both years, the global Moran’s I statistic suggested significant spatial clustering of foraging events on the SOAR during all analysis periods (Before, During, and After). In addition, a Kruskal-Wallis (comparison) test of both years revealed that the number of foraging events across analysis periods were similar within a given year. In 2017, the local Getis-Ord Gi∗ analysis identified hot spots of foraging activity in the same general area of the SOAR during all analysis periods. This local result, in combination with the global and comparison results of 2017, suggest there was no obvious period-related change detected in foraging effort associated with the 2017 MBES survey at the resolution measurable with the hydrophone array. In 2019, the foraging hot spot area shifted from the southernmost corner of the SOAR Before, to the center During, and was split between the two locations After the MBES survey. Due to the pattern of period-related spatial change identified in 2019, and the lack of change detected in 2017, it was unclear whether the change detected in 2019 was a result of MBES activity or some other environmental factor. Nonetheless, the results strongly suggest that the level of detected foraging during either MBES survey did not change, and most of the foraging effort remained in the historically well-utilized foraging locations of Cuvier’s beaked whales on the SOAR.

Refereed DesignationRefereed