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2008 AMBAR-ORCA Survey

for

Cuvier's Beaked Whales and other Cetaceans

Between June 28 and July 18, 2008 Bluefin of Hamble, the Seamark Trust survey vessel, returned to the area that was surveyed in 2007. Visual and hydrophone data were collected on the distribution, abundance and habitat preferences of Cuvier's beaked whales in the southern Bay of Biscay so as to augment previously collected data for a complete analysis.

Bluefin Bluefin of Hamble in Bermeo harbour

This survey was a collaboration among the Spanish marine conservation organisation, AMBAR, the British organisation, ORCA (Organisation Cetacea) and the Seamark Trust.

As in previous years, the Seamark Trust supplied the survey vessel free apart from direct costs such as the skipper and crew, food and a portion of the fuel.

The annotated chart below shows the Bay of Biscay area in which single platform line transect visual and acoustic surveys were carried out by observers from AMBAR, ORCA or MARINE LIFE . They sailed nearly 140 hours and covered 1,400 km, nearly 1,000 of them on active survey duty.

Survey Area Chart

legend

As summarised in the table, a variety of species was sighted, both during active observation and incidentally.

Species

Number
of
Sightings

Total Number
of Animals
Beaked Whales

Cuvier's beaked whale
(Zifius cavirostris)

9
13
Sowerby's beaked whale
(Mesoplodon bidens)
2
6
Un-identified beaked whale
4
4
Sperm Whales
Sperm whale
(Physeter macrocephalus)
2
14
Fin Whales
Fin whale
(Balaneoptera physalus)
3
4
Small Cetaceans

Long finned pilot whale
(Globicephala melas)

3
17

Bottlenosed dolphin
(Tursiops truncatus)

8
42

Common dolphin
(Delphinus delphis)

53
608

Striped dolphin
(Stenella coruleoalba)

6
45
Common or striped dolphin
14
184
Unidentified dolphin species
15
50
Unidentified Cetaceans
Unidentified medium cetacean
3
4
Unidentified whale species
5
10
Fish species
Unidentified shark
1
1

Cuvier's Beaked Whale

As it was last year, the focus of this summer's survey was the Cuvier's Beaked Whale. It was sighted mostly in waters deeper than 1,000 m in the East, deeper than 2,000 m in the West.

Photo identification suggested the presence of 6 new individuals compared with the 2006 survey. Comparisons with the 2007 survey have not yet been carried out.

Some promising acoustic data were obtained even though the software collapse that occurred on each engine start-up presented great challenges.

Small Cetaceans

Small dolphins were sighted widely throughout the survey area.

Large Cetaceans

Large whales, when sighted, occurred mostly in deep waters of the western part of the study area. The most remarkable single sighting was that of 13 sperm whale individuals.

sperm_whales

Scottish Charity Number SC 021578 | Copyright Seamark Trust