Navy Marine Species Density Database for U.S. Pacific & Gulf of Alaska

ManTechBuerau of Ocean Energy ManagementNOAA Fisheries Southwest Fisheries Science Center

Contact:
TBD@TBD.COM
published

Abstract

Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) in the California Current Ecosystem study area. Photograph taken by Cornelia Oedekoven, NOAA/SWFSC, under NMFS Permit No. 774-1714-03.
Short-beaked common dolphin (Delphinus delphis delphis) in the California Current Ecosystem study area. Photograph taken by K.A. Forney NOAA/SWFSC, under NMFS Permit No. 19091.
Mean modeled density of short-beaked common dolphin (Delphinus delphis delphis), Dall's porpoise (Phocoenoides dalli), and humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) in waters off Southern California for the winter/spring (January-April) and summer/fall (July-November) seasons with species sightings overlaid. Density maps and GIS-compatible rasters may be downloaded below. (Credit: Becker et al. 2017)
Model-based densities within the central North Pacific study area for rough-toothed dolphin (Steno bredanensis). Survey transects are shown in light gray, and black dots are sighting locations. Density maps and GIS-compatible rasters may be downloaded below. (Credit: Forney et al. 2015)

To ensure compliance with United States regulations including the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and Executive Order (EO) 12114 (Environmental Effects Abroad of Major Federal Actions), the U.S. Navy takes responsibility for reviewing and evaluating the potential environmental impacts of conducting at-sea training and testing operations. All marine mammals in the United States are protected under the MMPA, and some species receive additional protection under the ESA. As stipulated by the MMPA and ESA, information on the species and numbers of protected marine species is required in order to estimate the number of animals that might be affected by a specific activity. The Navy performs quantitative analyses to estimate the number of marine mammals and sea turtles that could be affected by at-sea training and testing activities. A key element of this quantitative impact analysis is knowledge of the abundance and concentration (density — the number of individual animals found per square kilometer of area) of the species in specific areas where those activities will occur. Species distribution models are now widely used in conservation and management to predict suitable habitat for protected marine species and to assess risks from human activities. These models estimate density as a continuous function of habitat variables (e.g., sea surface temperature, seafloor depth, etc.) and thus allow predictions of species densities on finer spatial scales than traditional design-based line-transect analysis methods, which generally provide a single estimate of species density for a broad geographic area. Both model- and design-based methods are generally used to estimate density for cetaceans. The methods used to estimate pinniped at-sea densities are typically different than those used for cetaceans, because pinnipeds are not limited to the water and spend a significant amount of time on land (e.g., at rookeries). Pinniped abundance is generally estimated via shore counts of animals on land at known haul-out sites or by counting number of pups weaned at rookeries and applying a correction factor to estimate the abundance of the population. Methods to estimate sea turtle density vary by species and region, and include counting nesting individuals or the number of eggs in nests, using information from tagging studies, or where data permit, using designed-based methods. The U.S. Navy's Pacific 3rd and 7th Fleet's Area of Responsibility includes the Hawaii-Southern California Training and Testing (HSTT) Study Area, the Mariana Islands Training and Testing (MITT) Study Area, the Northwest Training and Testing (NWTT) Study Area, and the Gulf of Alaska (GOA) Temporary Maritime Activities Area (TMAA) Study Area. These study areas include one of the most heavily surveyed regions in the world (the California Current Ecosystem), a fairly well-surveyed region within the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone of the Hawaiian Islands, a broad region within the Gulf of Alaska where the majority of offshore survey data are from two Navy-funded ship surveys, as well as a large region of the western North Pacific where the Navy conducted the first comprehensive marine mammal survey in 2007. Consequently, there is no single source of density data for every area, species, and season. For each marine mammal and sea turtle species present in these study areas, the Navy uses the best available region- and species-specific density data to support their quantitative impact analyses. The Navy produces region-specific reports that describe the modeling decisions made for each species, and includes density maps for each species and season as available. Citations for the majority of the cetacean density estimates are included below; please refer to the Navy's Marine Species Density Database Technical Reports for complete lists of all references used to develop density estimates for all species in the various study areas.

This website allows you to download the density maps for each taxon in GIS-compatible raster format along with maps that estimate the statistical uncertainty (if available) in the density estimates.

Citations

Citations for the majority of the cetacean density estimates. Please refer to the Navy's Marine Species Density Database technical reports for complete lists of all references used to develop density estimates for all species in the various study areas.

Barlow J (2016) Cetacean abundance in the California Current estimated from ship-based line-transect surveys in 1991Đ2014. NOAA Administrative Report LJ-16-01. La Jolla, CA, USA. National Marine Fisheries Service.

Becker EA, Carretta JV, Forney KA, Barlow J, Brodie S, Hoopes R, Jacox MG Maxwell SM, Redfern JV, Sisson NB, Welch H, Hazen EL (2020) Performance evaluation of cetacean species distribution models developed using generalized additive models and boosted regression trees. Ecology and Evolution 2020;00:1Đ28. https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.6316

Becker EA, Forney KA, Thayre BJ, Debich AJ, Campbell GS, Whitaker K, Douglas AB, Gilles A, Hoopes R, Hildebrand JA (2017) Habitat-based density models for three cetacean species off Southern California illustrate pronounced seasonal differences. Frontiers in Marine Science 4:121. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2017.00121

Bradford AL, Forney KA, Oleson EM, Barlow J (2017) Abundance estimates of cetaceans from a line-transect survey within the U.S. Hawaiian Islands Exclusive Economic Zone. Fishery Bulletin. 115:129-142.

Campbell GS, Thomas L, Whitaker K, Douglas AB, Calamboikdis J, Hildebrand JA (2015) Inter-annual and seasonal trends in cetacean distribution, density and abundance off Southern California. Deep-Sea Research Part II 112:143Đ157.

Forney KA, Becker EA, Foley DG, Barlow J, Oleson EM (2015) Habitat-based models of cetacean density and distribution in the central North Pacific. Endangered Species Research 27: 1-20.

Fulling GL, Thorson PH, Rivers J (2011) Distribution and Abundance Estimates for Cetaceans in the Waters off Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Pacific Science, 65(3), 321Đ343.

Rone BK, Zerbini AN, Douglas AB, Weller DW, Clapham PJ (2017) Abundance and distribution of cetaceans in the Gulf of Alaska. Marine Biology 164:23. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00227-016-3052-2

Density Mapper

The Density Mapper displays the models in an online GIS allowing detailed exploration of the outputs. The surfaces can be zoomed and animated. Histograms can be generated for specific areas of interest.

Species and Populations in the Mapper

The mapper can also be launched with a focus on a specific population from the species list below.

Abbreviation Region
HSTT Hawaii-Southern California Training and Testing Study Area
MITT Mariana Islands Training and Testing Study Area
NWTT Northwest Training and Testing Study Area
GOA TMAA Gulf of Alaska Temporary Maritime Activities Area

Baleen whales

Scientific name Common name Region
Balaenoptera acutorostrata Minke whale NWTT_Behm, HSTT_Hawaii, GOA, NWTT_Inland, HSTT_SOCAL, MITT, NWTT_Offshore
Balaenoptera borealis Sei whale HSTT_Hawaii, GOA, HSTT_SOCAL, MITT, NWTT_Offshore
Balaenoptera brydei Brydes whale HSTT_Hawaii, MITT, HSTT_SOCAL
Balaenoptera musculus Blue whale HSTT_Hawaii, GOA, HSTT_SOCAL, MITT, NWTT_Offshore
Balaenoptera physalus Fin whale NWTT_Behm, HSTT_Hawaii, GOA, HSTT_SOCAL, MITT, NWTT_Offshore
Eschrichtius robustus Gray whale GOA, HSTT_SOCAL, NWTT_Inland, NWTT_Offshore
Eubalaena japonica North Pacific right whale GOA
Megaptera novaeangliae Humpback whale NWTT_Behm, HSTT_Hawaii, GOA, NWTT_Inland, HSTT_SOCAL, MITT, NWTT_Offshore

Beaked and sperm whales

Scientific name Common name Region
Berardius bairdii Bairds beaked whale GOA, HSTT_SOCAL, NWTT_Offshore
Indopacetus pacificus Longmans beaked whale HSTT_Hawaii, MITT
Kogia breviceps Pygmy sperm whale HSTT_Hawaii, MITT
Kogia sima Dwarf sperm whale HSTT_Hawaii, MITT
Mesoplodon densirostris Blainvilles beaked whale HSTT_Hawaii, MITT
Mesoplodon stejnegeri Stejnegers beaked whale GOA
Physeter macrocephalus Sperm whale HSTT_Hawaii, GOA, HSTT_SOCAL, MITT, NWTT_Offshore
Ziphius cavirostris Cuviers beaked whale HSTT_Hawaii, GOA, MITT
Ziphius cavirostris/Mesoplodon spp. Small beaked whales HSTT_SOCAL, NWTT_Offshore

Large delphinoids

Scientific Name Common Name Region
Pseudorca crassidens False killer whale MITT
Pseudorca crassidens False killer whale - Hawaii Pelagic and Northwestern Hawaiian Islands stocks HSTT_Hawaii
Pseudorca crassidens False killer whale - MHI Insular HSTT_Hawaii
Orcinus orca Killer whale GOA, HSTT_Hawaii, HSTT_SOCAL, MITT
Orcinus orca Killer whale - offshore NWTT_Behm, NWTT_Offshore
Orcinus orca Killer whale - resident NWTT_Behm
Orcinus orca Killer whale - southern resident NWTT_Inland, NWTT_Offshore
Orcinus orca Killer whale - transient NWTT_Behm, NWTT_Inland
Peponocephala electra Melon-headed whale MITT
Peponocephala electra Melon-headed whale - Hawaiian Islands HSTT_Hawaii
Peponocephala electra Melon-headed whale - Kohala Resident HSTT_Hawaii
Feresa attenuata Pygmy killer whale HSTT_Hawaii, HSTT_SOCAL, MITT
Grampus griseus Rissos dolphin HSTT_Hawaii, HSTT_SOCAL, MITT, NWTT_Offshore
Globicephala macrorhynchus Short-finned pilot whale HSTT_Hawaii, HSTT_SOCAL, MITT, NWTT_Offshore

Small delphinoids

Scientific name Common name Region
Delphinus capensis Long-beaked common dolphin HSTT_SOCAL, NWTT_Offshore
Delphinus delphis Short-beaked common dolphin HSTT_SOCAL, NWTT_Offshore
Lagenodelphis hosei Frasers dolphin HSTT_Hawaii, MITT
Lagenorhynchus obliquidens Pacific white-sided dolphin NWTT_Behm, GOA, NWTT_Inland, HSTT_SOCAL, NWTT_Offshore
Lissodelphis borealis Northern right whale dolphin HSTT_SOCAL, NWTT_Offshore
Stenella attenuata Pantropical spotted dolphin MITT
Stenella attenuata Pantropical spotted dolphin - 4 Islands HSTT_Hawaii
Stenella attenuata Pantropical spotted dolphin - Hawaii Island HSTT_Hawaii
Stenella attenuata Pantropical spotted dolphin - Hawaii Pelagic HSTT_Hawaii
Stenella attenuata Pantropical spotted dolphin - Oahu HSTT_Hawaii
Stenella coeruleoalba Striped dolphin HSTT_Hawaii, MITT, HSTT_SOCAL, NWTT_Offshore
Stenella longirostris Spinner dolphin MITT
Stenella longirostris Spinner dolphin - Hawaii Island HSTT_Hawaii
Stenella longirostris Spinner dolphin - Hawaii pelagic HSTT_Hawaii
Stenella longirostris Spinner dolphin - Kauai Niihau HSTT_Hawaii
Stenella longirostris Spinner dolphin - Oahu 4 Islands HSTT_Hawaii
Steno bredanensis Rough-toothed dolphin HSTT_Hawaii, MITT
Tursiops truncatus Bottlenose dolphin HSTT_SOCAL, MITT, NWTT_Offshore
Tursiops truncatus Bottlenose dolphin - 4 Islands Region HSTT_Hawaii
Tursiops truncatus Bottlenose dolphin - California coastal stock HSTT_SOCAL
Tursiops truncatus Bottlenose dolphin - Hawaii Island HSTT_Hawaii
Tursiops truncatus Bottlenose dolphin - Hawaii Pelagic HSTT_Hawaii
Tursiops truncatus Bottlenose dolphin - Kauai and Niihau HSTT_Hawaii
Tursiops truncatus Bottlenose dolphin - Oahu HSTT_Hawaii

Porpoises

Scientific name Common name Region
Phocoena phocoena Harbor porpoise GOA, NWTT_Offshore, NWTT_Inland, NWTT_Behm
Phocoenoides dalli Dalls porpoise NWTT_Behm, GOA, NWTT_Inland, HSTT_SOCAL, NWTT_Offshore

Sea turtles

Scientific Name Common Name Region
Chelonia mydas Green sea turtle - ApraHarbor MITT
Chelonia mydas Green sea turtle - CNMINearshore MITT
Chelonia mydas Green sea turtle - GuamNearshore MITT
Chelonia mydas Green sea turtle - Offshore MITT
Chelonia mydas Green sea turtle - SDBay HSTT_SOCAL
Eretmochelys imbricata Hawksbill turtle - ApraHarbor MITT
Eretmochelys imbricata Hawksbill turtle - CNMINearshore MITT
Eretmochelys imbricata Hawksbill turtle - GuamNearshore MITT
Eretmochelys imbricata Hawksbill turtle - Offshore MITT
Dermochelys coriacea Leatherback sea turtle GOA, MITT, NWTT_Offshore
Caretta caretta Loggerhead turtle MITT
Chelonia mydas/Eretmochelys imbricata Sea turtles - Nearshore HSTT_Hawaii
Chelonia mydas/Eretmochelys imbricata Sea turtles - Offshore HSTT_Hawaii

Seals and Sea lions

Scientific name Common name Region
Arctocephalus townsendi Guadalupe fur seal HSTT_SOCAL, NWTT_Offshore
Callorhinus ursinus Northern fur seal GOA, HSTT_SOCAL, NWTT_Offshore, NWTT_Behm
Eumetopias jubatus Steller sea lion GOA, NWTT_Offshore, NWTT_Inland, NWTT_Behm
Histriophoca fasciata Ribbon seal GOA
Mirounga angustirostris Northern elephant seal NWTT_Behm, GOA, NWTT_Inland, HSTT_SOCAL, NWTT_Offshore
Monachus schauinslandi Hawaiian monk seal - Nearshore HSTT_Hawaii
Monachus schauinslandi Hawaiian monk seal - Offshore HSTT_Hawaii
Phoca vitulina Harbor seal NWTT_Behm, GOA, NWTT_Inland, HSTT_SOCAL, NWTT_Offshore
Zalophus californianus California sea lion GOA, HSTT_SOCAL, NWTT_Inland, NWTT_Offshore
Zalophus californianus California sea lion - SDBay HSTT_SOCAL

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

The density data incorporated into the Density Mapper came from multiple scientists working in study areas throughout the Pacific and Gulf of Alaska. Density estimates would not exist without the dedication of the marine mammal and sea turtle observers, principal investigators, and survey crews who worked hard collecting the data used to derive the density estimates included here. We thank them and the many study area experts and Navy biologists who provided input on these data and analyses. Funding for this project was provided by the Navy, Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet and by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), Southwest Fisheries Science Center (SWFSC), and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM).

Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet Buerau of Ocean Energy Management NOAA Fisheries Southwest Fisheries Science Center