Tarenina Max

2017 JISAO Summer Intern

Passive acoustic monitoring of Bowhead whales

Tarenina MaxThis summer I got to be one of the thirteen interns with JISAO. I got to work at NOAA with Dana Wright an amazing researcher who works for the Marine Mammal lab. My project was to do passive acoustic monitoring of bowhead whales in the Chukchi Sea. My job was to go through bowhead data and look then mark for upsweeps using a SoundChecker program. A upsweep is a call type produced by baleen whales, including bowhead, and North Pacific Right whale (NPRW). Identifying when and where a species uses the upsweep can help researchers understand distribution and migration patterns. Why this work is so important because NPRW are critically endangered with only thirty left! Since NPRW are so few it hard for researchers to study them overall.

Analyzing the data, I got to look at five locations in the Chukchi Sea. I would mark “maybe” North Pacific Right whale when looking for upsweeps. Why would I mark “maybe” right whale because it can be a marker for another analyze to distinguish whether it is a bowhead or right whale. Overall, I found that bowhead upsweeps at all locations supports that it is a common call type of bowhead whales. In fall and spring data at Icy Cape and Pt. Hope supports that bowheads use upsweeps during migration and on feeding grounds. Most importantly bowhead upsweeps can be compared to North Pacific Right whale to see if they differ in length of call and spacing between calls.

My favorite part of this work was definitely listening to bowhead whales all day! I also got to listen to other marine mammals, which was so new and foreign to me on the first day. I really enjoyed working at NOAA and it was such a pretty site to be working at, especially with Carter, Stephen and Will. Spending time away from home in Seattle, WA made me experience being independent and meeting new people! I got to do a lot swimming at the parks, enjoying festive activities, going to concerts, hiking, and so much more! Some of the best moments I had were definitely spending time with the other interns. Thanks to JISAO and NOAA for an amazing summer in Seattle, Washington.