DFO Maritimes Region Cetacean Sightings

OBIS Canada

Dataset credit

OBIS & OBIS Canada


Primary contact Mary Kennedy Bedford Institute of Oceanography
Data entry Ei Fujioka Duke University


Harris, Lei E. 2015. DFO Maritimes Region Cetacean Sightings. Version 6 In OBIS Canada Digital Collections. Bedford Institute of Oceanography, Dartmouth, NS, Canada. Published by OBIS, Digital http://www.iobis.org/.


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. 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

Observations archived in a regional database. Here are the caveats that are supplied to users who request records from the source database (similiar caveats should be applied to the OBIS dataset): 1. These data are intended only for the specified user and purpose for which they were requested and should not be distributed to others. 2. The sighting data have not yet been completely error-checked 3. The quality of some of the sighting data is unknown. Most sightings are collected on an opportunistic basis and observations may come from individuals with a variety of expertise in marine mammal identification experiences. 4. Most data have been gathered from platforms of opportunity that were vessel-based. The inherent problems with negative or positive reactions by cetaceans to the approach of such vessels have not yet been factored into the data 5. Sighting effort has not been quantified (i.e., the numbers cannot be used to estimate true species density or abundance for an area). Lack of sightings do not represent lack of species present in a particular area 6. Numbers sighted have not been verified (especially in light of the significant differences in detectability among species). 7. For completeness, these data represent an amalgamation of sightings from a variety of years and seasons. Effort (and number of sightings) is not necessarily consistent among months, years, and areas. There are large gaps between years. Thus seasonal, depth, and distribution information should be interpreted with caution. 8. Many sightings could not be identified to species, but are listed to the smallest taxonomic group possible.

Study Extent: Areas of interest to Canadian research extending from the North Atlantic to the arctic and to the North Pacific.

Quality Control: Scientific names listed in the source database species list have been mapped to recognized standards - marine taxa have been mapped to the World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS). The respective codes(WoRMS AphiaIDs) have been included in this resource in the scientificNameID field as LSIDs.

Step Description 1: This resource was created by the data provider for OBIS Canada. Records were downloaded from the source database and and an OBIS view of the collection was created. DwC fields were populated after consultation between the resource creator and the OBIS Canada data management team. This is the 5th version of this OBIS dataset. The original data records were archived in the Fisheries and Oceans Maritimes SABS cetacean database.

In the original data downloaded from the OBIS Canada IPT server, there were 91 records that were potential duplicates with the existing OBIS-SEAMAP datasets. These records are removed from the online mapping tools but are included in the dataset download.


Harris, Lei E. 2015. DFO Maritimes Region Cetacean Sightings. Version 6 In OBIS Canada Digital Collections. Bedford Institute of Oceanography, Dartmouth, NS, Canada. Published by OBIS, Digital http://www.iobis.org/.



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
oidUnique ID number (generated by OBIS-SEAMAP)
idID of the dataset in OBIS
modifiedThe date of the record updated
languageLanguage (always
rightsLinks to the copyright documents
rightsholderRight holder
institutionidInstitution ID
datasetidDataset ID
institutioncodeInstitution code
collectioncodeCollection code
datasetnameDataset name
basisofrecordBasis of record "HumanObservation"
dynamicpropertiesDynamic properties
occurrenceiddefinition not provided
catalognumberCatalog number
recordedbyInstitute that recorded the data
individualcountdefinition not provided
sexdefinition not provided
lifestagedefinition not provided
samplingprotocoldefinition not provided
eventtimedefinition not provided
fieldnumberdefinition not provided
minimumdepthinmetersdefinition not provided
maximumdepthinmetersdefinition not provided
decimallatitudedefinition not provided
decimallongitudedefinition not provided
scientificnameidScientific name ID
scientificnamedefinition not provided
obs_datedefinition not provided
obs_timeTime of the observation (local time zone)
sp_tsnTaxonomic Serial Number added by OBIS-SEAMAP
geomGeometry field added by OBIS-SEAMAP
Marine mammals38,743
Sea turtles77
Rays and sharks331
Other species125
Non spatial0
Non species0
Date, Begin1966-07-17
Date, End2014-12-20
Temporal prec.111110
Latitude11.91 - 74.64
Longitude-173.64 - -11.11
Coord. prec.4 decimal digits
Data typeAnimal sighting
Traveled (km)0
Contr. through
Sharing policy CC-BY (All)
Shared with None
See metadata in static HTML
See metadata in FGDC XML
See download history / statistics