Right Whale GIS Projects

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are used to evaluate right whale distribution and habitat in the Southeast U.S and to define ship traffic patterns in and around habitat in the Southeast and Northeast U.S.

Right Whale Distribution, Relative Abundance, and Habitat Use

GIS MapWe are collaborating with partners-NOAA Fisheries, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the University of Rhode Island, the New England Aquarium, and others-to compile and manage aerial survey observations using a GIS. Analyses of these spatial data will help us better define the distribution patterns of right whales in their southeast calving grounds in relation to environmental factors and human activities. We are currently comparing whale sightings with bathymetry (water depths) and sea-surface temperatures to gain a better understanding of their habitat. Human activities like ship traffic are also integrated into the GIS to help characterize ship-traffic patterns in areas essential to the survival of these whales. Data on ship-traffic patterns are generated from the mandatory ship reporting (MSR) systems that have been implemented by the federal government to surround the critical habitats of right whales.

For more information regarding the MSR systems and a first-year report of MSR data, visit http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/prot_res/PR2/Conservation_and_Recovery_
Program/msr/msrhome.html



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