In Search of Dolphins, Whales, and Turtles

Fin whale off the coast of New Jersey. Photo by Marjorie Foster

Fin whale off the coast of New Jersey. Photo credit: NOAA/NEFSC Marjorie Foster

The Northeast and Southeast Fisheries Science Centers have just begun aerial surveys to document the distribution and abundance of marine mammals and turtles from Florida to Canada! This is part of the Atlantic Marine Assessment Program of Protected Species (AMAPPS) project (funded by NOAA Fisheries, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Navy).

Track lines of the proposed AMAPPS survey area. Map by Debra Palka, NOAA Fishery Biologist

Track lines of the proposed AMAPPS survey area. Map by Debra Palka, NOAA Fishery Biologist

These surveys will be conducted from NOAA Twin Otter aircraft, specially designed to fly at a low altitude and slow speed, allowing scientists to spot animals from observation windows on the sides and belly of the aircraft.  The distribution and abundance data collected will be used to create species density maps of marine mammals and turtles.

Northeast AMAPPS aerial survey team. Photo by Mary Jo Barkaszi.

Northeast AMAPPS aerial survey team (from left to right): Christin Khan, Debra Palka, Allison Chaillet, Jennifer Gatzke, Richard Holt. Photo credit: NOAA/NEFSC Mary Jo Barkaszi.

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