Near real-time marine mammal monitoring from gliders: Practical challenges, system development, and management implications


In 2017, an endangered North Atlantic right whale mortality event in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Canada, triggered the implementation of dynamic mitigation measures that required real-time information on whale distribution. Underwater glider-based acoustic monitoring offers a possible solution for collecting near real-time information but has many practical challenges including self-noise, energy restrictions, and computing capacity, as well as limited glider-to-shore data transfer bandwidth. This paper describes the development of a near real-time baleen whale acoustic monitoring glider system and its evaluation in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in 2018. Development focused on identifying and prioritizing important acoustic events and on sending contextual information to shore for human vali- dation. The system performance was evaluated post-retrieval, then the trial was simulated using optimized parame- ters. Trial simulation evaluation revealed that the validated detections of right, fin, and blue whales produced by the system were all correct; the proportion of species occurrence missed varied depending on the timeframe considered. Glider-based near real-time monitoring can be an effective and reliable technique to inform dynamic mitigation strat- egies for species such as the North Atlantic right whale.

Journal of the Acoustical Society of America