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Synergistic Data Source Approach to Studying Keystone Marine Predators
  • Elizabeth Ferguson
Elizabeth Ferguson
Ocean Science Analytics

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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The synergistic use of large datasets from cabled array sensors and remote sensing satellites is vastly under used for studying marine mammals. An important element of assessing long standing shifts in biodiversity within marine environments is to understand the relationship between physical and biological oceanographic variables and the occurrence of these keystone predators. The study area for this project is the California Current Ecosystem, a dynamic and productive coastal and offshore marine ecosystem within the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. This complex environment is influenced by the southward flowing California Current, seasonal changes in wind intensity, and a narrow continental shelf paired with a steep continental slope. A series of long-term, continuous data are collected by the Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) and includes physical and biological sensors from fixed and mobile sensors, as well as passive acoustic data from broadband hydrophones. We analyzed recordings collected during 2017 from three recorders located on the shelf (~80 m), slope (~580 m), and from a 200 m platform located above the base of the slope. Detections of sperm whales, delphinid species, humpback whales and fin whales suggest the region is a productive habitat. We combined acoustic derived marine mammal observations with information from the OOI sensors and remotely sensed chlorophyll data to describe ecosystem characteristics and explore indirect measures of prey availability. Our findings provide insight into regional biodiversity and associated physical and biological characteristics in a dynamic region of the northwest Pacific Ocean.