Friday, 5 December 2014

Surveying Cetaceans in Portugal

From enjoying Humpback Whales in Hawaii and Panama, Morgan was back across the Atlantic and participating in a survey for cetaceans and turtles with WCA partner AIMM – Marine Environment Research Association in Portugal. AIMM conducts research in partnership with universities, research centres and other Non-Governmental Organisations, to increase the knowledge of marine ecosystems in Portugal. 

On board the Portuguese Navy vessel the Creoula

Andre Cid from the organisation and Morgan took part in scientific survey off the coast of Portugal to establish what biodiversity exists off the coast and where. While the survey looked a range of marine life, Morgan and Andre Cid were there to survey for cetaceans and turtles.   

Working with the scientists on board

On board the beautiful Creoula, originally a cod fishing boat used in the North Atlantic and now a training ship of the Portuguese Navy the team recorded all the whales, dolphins, porpoises and turtles they saw. This data will go towards identifying which species occur in the area, estimating the spatial distribution and relative abundance (i.e. where they occur and how many are there), assessing habitat use and population structures and towards comparing photo-identification pictures (photos of the dorsal fin that allow individual animals to be recognised) with existing catalogues.  

Looking out for whales and dolphins!

In addition to conducting visual surveys the team also monitored for whales and dolphins acoustically using a hydrophone, which is basically an underwater microphone that will pick up the clicks, whistles and any other vocalisations that the whales and dolphins may be making. By plugging the hydrophone into a computer these vocalisations can be recorded and also visualised on screen. 

Click to discover more about the work of AIMM!

The acoustic monitoring system

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