DFO Maritimes Region Cetacean Sightings

Pamela Emery, Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Dataset credit

OBIS and OBIS Canada


Primary contact Pamela Emery Fisheries and Oceans Canada


DFO. (2017). DFO Maritimes Region Cetacean Sightings. Version 7 In OBIS Canada Digital Collections. Bedford Institute of Oceanography, Dartmouth, NS, Canada. Published by OBIS, Digital http://www.iobis.org/. Accessed on –INSERT DATE
Emery, P. 2020. DFO Maritimes Region Cetacean Sightings. Data downloaded from OBIS-SEAMAP (http://seamap.env.duke.edu/dataset/103152397) on yyyy-mm-dd and originated from OBIS (https://obis.org/dataset/345c1b88-2bab-4403-ad2c-1733c0b0a3dd)


This is an OBIS formatted version of the Fisheries and Oceans Canada Maritimes Region database for visual sightings of cetaceans (e.g. whales, dolphins and porpoises) and other large pelagic animals (e.g. fish and turtles) mostly from the Scotian Shelf/Bay of Fundy portions of Canada's east coast. The collectors of these sightings are diverse (e.g. NGO researchers, fisheries observers, private consultants, etc), mostly on-board ship and mostly collected since the late 1990s.

The horizontal resolution of the data (e.g. distance between sightings) varies by a vast amount - just metres in some areas like the Bay of Fundy, and tens to thousands of kilometers elsewhere, like off northern Labrador. A small portion of the database (e.g. DFO Survey) are standardized marine mammal survey data, where a line transect sightings survey is conducted and sightings effort is logged. Only these survey data allow for the calculation of Sightings Per Unit Effort and the use of Distance Sampling methods, leading to a statistically-based, unbiased abundance estimate. This information is not provided in this resource.

This resource contains presence information only. No absences are recorded.

The design and structure of the main project database is consistent with other DFO databases and with the University of Rhode Island (URI) whale sightings database. Departures from the URI standard (mainly species and gear codes) are easily translated by users of either database.

This database is a compilation of a number of datasets, most of the data being gathered opportunistically. More detailed information on the individual sightings, human interactions and animal behaviour are available from the source database and the resource creator should be contacted.



Supplemental information

This dataset was downloaded from OBIS (https://obis.org/). The records for only marine mammals, seabirds, sea turtles and rays and sharks were extracted. Records with no longitude/latitude or no date (eventDate) were excluded.
OBIS dataset page:
Data Provider's dataset page:


DFO. (2017). DFO Maritimes Region Cetacean Sightings. Version 7 In OBIS Canada Digital Collections. Bedford Institute of Oceanography, Dartmouth, NS, Canada. Published by OBIS, Digital http://www.iobis.org/. Accessed on –INSERT DATE



This section explains attributes included in the original dataset. OBIS-SEAMAP restricts the attributes available to the public to date/time, lat/lon and species names/counts only. Should you need other attributes described here, you are encouraged to contact the data provider.

Attributes described below represent those in the original dataset provided by the provider.
All attributes are included in the downloadable file (CSV or ESRI File Geodatabase) for "Complete Set of Dataset".

Attributes in dataset

Attribute (table column)Description
oidInternal ID
idRecord ID
dataset_idDataset ID
scientificnameScientific name
vernacularnameVernacular name
aphiaidAphia ID
taxonranktaxononic rank
individualcountGroup size / individual count
eventdateEvent date (precision varies)
eventtimeEvent time
decimallatitudeLatitude in decimal degrees
decimallongitudeLongitude in decimal degrees
coordinateprecisionCoordinate precision
catalognumberCatalog number
collectioncodeCollection code
occurrencestatusOccurrence status
basisofrecordBasis of record (HumanObservation / MachineObservation)
modifiedDate/time the record was modified
node_idNode ID
occurrenceidOccurrence ID
occurrenceremarksOccurrence remarks
eventidEvent ID
institutioncodeInstitution code
lifestageLife stage
sexGender of the animal if known
speciesSpecies by provider
datasetidDataset ID by provider
localityLocation of ocean
waterbodyDetails of ocean
droppedFlag indicating the record was dropped (always false)
absenceFlag indicating the record represents the absence of the species (always false)
marineFlag indicating the record is for marine life (always true)
Marine mammals48,703
Sea turtles120
Rays and sharks377
Other species0
Non spatial0
Non species0
Date, Begin1963-04-08
Date, End2017-04-10
Temporal prec.111000
Latitude11.91 - 76.29
Longitude-173.64 - -11.11
Coord. prec.6 decimal digits
Data typeAnimal sighting
Traveled (km)0
Contr. throughiOBIS
Sharing policy CC-BY (All)
Shared with None
See metadata in static HTML
See metadata in FGDC XML
See download history / statistics