Learn more about this topic at Wikipedia

Search results

Friday, September 24, 2021


 just started this ... lots of work to do!!


Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Thursday, August 12, 2021

FISHERIES - New paper on self-localization of buoyless (ropeless) fishing gear

The following paper was recently published in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America's Express Letters, and is available as an open access article here:

Self-localization of buoyless fishing gear and other objects on the sea floor

Mark Baumgartner and Jim Partan

End lines used in commercial trap/pot fishing pose a significant entanglement risk to whales, sea turtles, and sharks. Removal of these ropes for buoyless fishing is being considered by the United States and Canadian governments, but a method to systematically locate the gear without an attached buoy is required. A method was developed for an acoustic modem to self-localize and broadcast its location to nearby ships to minimize gear conflict, optimize power consumption, and reduce lost gear. This method was implemented using a research modem that self-localized to within 5 m of its estimated location on the sea floor.

Mark Baumgartner
Senior Scientist
Biology Department
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
MS #33, Redfield 256
266 Woods Hole Road
Woods Hole, MA 02543
(508) 289-2678 phone

Sunday, August 8, 2021

DISTANCE LEARNING: Stuck at home with the Kid's. Here's a fun whale project to keep them busy!

This "Blue Whale Puppet" was inspired by one I saw online somewhere. I've included 2 sizes, 8-1/2 x 11 and 11 x 17. Print your size choice on heavy card stock, cut out the parts, punch holes in the appropriate places and insert paper fasteners in the holes or you can use heavy twine tied on both sides. Hang your finished artwork on the wall where everyone can enjoy it ... and maybe play with it a bit.
Want to add a little more time onto this project? I've included black and white versions so your kids can paint or color their creations before they assemble the puppet.
Maybe they can come up with some titles to add ... like "I whale always love you!" or "I'm looking for a porpoise"... you know, something that adds more fun for everyone.

Download it now for FREE from our store at teacherspayteachers.com
Enjoy, Art MacKay

LOOKING BACK: The Phalarope is Fundy's "canary" ... is it dead or dying

This article was written 20 years ago. During that time right whales have moved northward and the presence of Phalaropes has been "up and down" according to the few reports we have received. Is anyone aware of recent studies?


The Phalarope is Fundy's "canary" ... and it's dead or dying.

The decline of a tiny little bird signals sinister happenings in the Bay of Fundy and Northern Gulf of Maine.

by Art MacKay
Copyright © 2000

It was a magical summer day in the 70's. Head Harbour Passage was teeming with life and seven gigantic Northern Right Whales were snorting, blowing and diving all around us while finbacks and porpoise seemed to be everywhere. The water was a soup of life and enormous patches of red identified the locations of millions of krill which were being fed upon by the whales and schools of herring and mackerel which, in their turn, were being attacked by large, sinister forms that swept up from the depths and smashed into the feeding masses of fish. On the surface, gulls, terns, cormorants and other sea birds were taking their share. Flocks of Northern Phalaropes rose by the thousands and, turning in magnificent unison, they would fly upstream to settle again in the choicest feeding places where they twirled and dipped energetically as they fed on an important little planktonic species called Calanus finmarchicus.

Phalaropes are pelagic sandpipers. They breed in the Arctic barrens and boreal forests and migrate to important open water feeding areas like Head Harbour Passage at West Isles in the western mouth of the Bay of Fundy in the northern Gulf of Maine. Calanus is their principal food and Head Harbour passage has a special strain that has attracted these beautiful little birds in numbers which, according to Austin Squires' "The Birds of New Brunswick", have on occasion exceeded a half million individuals. Some have estimated that 60 to 70 percent of the entire phalarope population visit this area during the summer. They are now all but gone and no one seems to have noticed. What happened to cause these important members of our Fundy ecosystem to move on or die off? Dick Brown, a Canadian Wildlife Service biologist with a specialty in marine birds, may have had the answer. Some years ago, his initial studies suggested that something strange, but lethal, was happening. The phalaropes, he claimed, were unable to feed on their principal food Calanus, even though this creature was present in the millions. For some reason, they were not coming to the surface of the water where they could be fed upon by the foraging phalaropes ... they were staying several "beaklengths" away.

Unfortunately, Dick passed on before he could follow up on his observations and the work seems to have been dropped by CWS.

What has caused this dramatic decline in Northern Phalaropes? Is the decline in Fundy salmon and other marine creatures tied to this same phenomenon or is it local in extent?

Aquaculture immediately spring to mind as a cause. Certainly oil slicks from these sites blanket the surface of the water in some areas; particularly in August when the largest numbers of salmon are being fed enormous quantities of food as they are fattened for the fall market. The oil slicks can be seen from the air and represent a major change in the surface water chemistry. More particularly, the decline in the phalarope population corresponds with the last 15 years or so of the industry development. Are the Calanus reacting to these oils on the surface by moving downward away from the irritant and, consequently, removing themselves from foraging phalaropes?

Perhaps changes in solar radiation have caused this disaster. Perhaps it is a complex of surface borne
pollution from our towns, mills, fish factories and aquaculture sites. Perhaps there has been some sort of phalarope disease? Whatever the reason, it's time for someone else to follow up on Dick Brown's
work. Something serious has been happening in the Bay of Fundy and we need answers if we are to protect this valuable resource for the future.

We ignore the passing of this "canary" at our peril!


Saturday, August 7, 2021

OPINION - Frankenfish coming to Bay of Fundy soon?

© Art MacKay

Atlantic salmon swim to forefront of science
By JOHN McPHEE Environment Reporter, Halifax Chronicle-Herald
Thu. Dec 10, 2010

A genetically modified Atlantic salmon escapes from a fish farm into a river.

But it doesn’t live long enough to enjoy its freedom. Because the salmon isn’t eating a particular feed, a "kill gene" kicks in and it dies.

It may sound like science fiction but researchers are well on their way to this kind of genetic tweaking, said Fred Whoriskey, of the Atlantic Salmon Federation, in an interview Wednesday.

Genome mapping and research will eventually open up a wide array of biological tools. Most of them

Friday, August 6, 2021

CLIMATE CHANGE: Canadian National Fire Database

« Previous year
Next year »

The Canadian National Fire Database (CNFDB) is a collection of forest fire data from various sources; these data include fire locations (point data) and fire perimeters (polygon data) as provided by Canadian fire management agencies (provinces, territories, and Parks Canada). Fires of all sizes are included in the database, but only those greater than 200 hectares in final size are shown in the map above — these represent a small percentage of all fires but account for most of the area burned (usually

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

JOB: Second Posting - Postdoctoral fellow position - Ecologically and biologically significant areas for large predators in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence based on 25 years of survey, biologging and environmental data

Second posting - Postdoctoral fellow position - Ecologically and biologically significant areas for large predators in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence based on 25 years of survey, biologging and environmental data

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) is responsible for the conservation and management of marine mammals in Canadian waters. A post-doctoral candidate is sought to develop species distribution models based on a large dataset of observations obtained from aerial and boat surveys conducted during the last 25 years in eastern Canada, in particular in the estuary and the gulf of the St Lawrence. The candidate will help collate relevant environmental data that could be associated with the occurrence of several species including the endangered blue whale, fin whale, right whale and other large predators. He/She will also benefit from information collected from bio-logging devices that were attached to several whale species.  The predictive models will be used to identify important habitats of

WHALES: New publication: WhaleMap: a tool to collate and display whale survey results in near real-time

My co-authors and I have developed an open source software tool called WhaleMap (available at whalemap.org) to collate and display whale survey results in near real-time. It is described in our recent publication in the Journal of Open Source Software:

Johnson H, Morrison D, Taggart C (2021). WhaleMap: a tool to collate and display whale survey results in near real-time. Journal of Open Source Software, 6(62), 3094, https://doi.org/10.21105/joss.03094

WhaleMap has proven a valuable tool for improving conservation outcomes for baleen whales, including the North Atlantic right whale, along the east coast of the US and Canada. It has achieved this by optimizing research activities, facilitating dynamic risk-mitigation measures, and engaging with the ocean industry and the public. It is our hope that this system can be readily adapted to benefit other regions and species facing similar conservation challenges. Please do not hesitate to contact me (hansen.johnson@dal.ca) if you have any questions.

All the best,

Hansen Johnson (he/him/his)
PhD Candidate, Oceanography Department, Dalhousie University
Guest Student, Biology Department, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

RIGHT WHALE: A New publication on possible right whale habitat suitability in 2050

On behalf of my co-authors, I would like to announce a recent peer-reviewed publication on projecting right whale habitat suitability in 2050.

Here is the abstract:

North Atlantic right whales (Eubalaena glacialis) are critically endangered, and recent changes in distribution patterns have been a major management challenge. Understanding the role that environmental conditions play in habitat suitability helps to determine the regions in need of monitoring or protection for conservation of the species, particularly as climate change shifts suitable habitat. This study used three species distribution modeling algorithms, together with historical whale abundance data (1993–2009) and environmental covariate data, to build monthly ensemble models of past E. glacialis habitat suitability in the Gulf of Maine. The model was projected onto the year 2050 for a range of climate scenarios. Specifically, the distribution of the species was modeled using generalized additive models, boosted regression trees, and artificial neural networks, with environmental covariates that included sea surface temperature, bottom water temperature, bathymetry, a modeled Calanus finmarchicus habitat index, and chlorophyll. Year-2050 projections used downscaled climate anomaly fields from Representative Concentration Pathway 4.5 and 8.5. The relative contribution of each covariate changed seasonally, with an increase in the importance of bottom temperature and C. finmarchicus in the summer, when model performance was highest. A negative correlation was observed between model performance and sea surface temperature contribution. The 2050 projections indicated decreased habitat suitability across the Gulf of Maine in the period from July through October,with the exception of narrow bands along the Scotian Shelf.The results suggest that regions outside of the current areas of conservation focus may become increasingly important habitats for E. glacialis under future climate scenarios.

The paper can be found here: https://online.ucpress.edu/elementa/article/9/1/00058/116780/Projecting-regions-of-North-Atlantic-right-whale

Camille Ross
Research Technician, Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences
Oceanography Master's Student, University of Maine, School of Marine Sciences

Thursday, April 29, 2021

CLIMATE CHANGE: Whales and Climate topic

My co-editors and I are excited to announce a new topic on Whales and Climate in Frontiers in Marine Science. 

The aim of the Whales and Climate topic is to provide research that advances understanding of the complex relationship between baleen whales and climate change. Climate impacts on the marine environment are intrinsically complex; they are characterized by uncertainty, delays, non-linearities, and a multiplicity of pathways, which can mask the cause-effect relationships. We seek research that helps to quantify this complexity of interactions between climate change and mysticetus. The aim is set to shed light on how past, present, and future climate conditions influence a whale's life cycle such as breeding, feeding, migrating, and recovery. It is also to evaluate the relative vulnerability of different populations and species to climate change. Defining impacts and possible relationships with climate

WHALES: New book on North Atlantic right whales

Disappearing Giants: The North Atlantic Right Whale

Scott Kraus, Marilyn Marx, Heather Pettis, Amy Knowlton, Ken Mallory

Publisher: Fitzhenry and Whiteside, Markham, ON

Paperback/140 pages

Disappearing Giants tells the story of one of the most endangered large whales in the oceans today, from the whaling history for which it is named, to the most up-to-date research efforts and population status. Illustrated throughout with beautiful photos, it describes how individual right whales are identified, how they feed, migrate, and face the challenges of life in the industrialized North Atlantic Ocean.  The authors, long-time right whale researchers from the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life at New England Aquarium in Boston, hope this book will bring awareness to this wondrous but threatened whale species and the tremendous efforts being  taken to help North Atlantic right whales  avoid extinction and thrive far into the future.

To order a copy please visit rightwhaleresearch.bigcartel.com

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

ISSUES: Is the Proposed Dam Removal on the St. Croix River Really a Good Thing?

The St. Croix River and its estuary has a long history of heavy commercial use, the impacts of which can still be observed in the waters and sediments of the watershed, including western Passamaquoddy Bay. Additionally, the marine and freshwater flora and fauna has been diminished significantly and for many decades anadromous fish species, in particular, have had restricted access to their up-river spawning areas.

In the 1960s, the Woodland mill dumped black liquor directly into the river for nearly 10 years causing the virtual death of the river. Since this practice was brought to an end, the river has

Friday, April 24, 2020

ISSUES: 20 Years ago Olympia Snow"s "pity lecture" pointed to serious issues. Have things changed?

This was published 20 years ago and brought to light many of the serious issues facing folks along our Atlantic coast. I am astounded that the issues have only become more serious. Or am I wrong?

Monday, April 20, 2020

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

EXPLORE: The Strange Rocks of Campobello Island, Bay of Fundy

Some of Campobello‘s young people like to call the ledge off the island’s Liberty Point “Frog Rock.” Some also see the image of a turtle.

With a little imagination, the image of the stone stack below Campobello’s Friar’s Head reveals an “Old Friar.” A Passamaquoddy legend speaks of the stack as a young Indian maiden, turned to stone while awaiting the return of her lover. The cracks in the “Old Friar” indicate he is likely to loose his head in the not too distant future.