MEASURING THE DISTRIBUTION OF NORTH ATLANTIC RIGHT WHALES (EUBALAENA GLACIALIS) ACROSS MULTIPLE SCALES FROM THEIR VOCALIZATIONS: APPLICATIONS FOR ECOLOGY AND MANAGEMENT
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The objective of this thesis was to assess the distribution of North Atlantic right whales, Eubalaena glacialis (NARW), in Canadian waters using passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) technology at daily to seasonal time-scales, and over sub-regional to continentalshelf spatial-scales, to help advance their conservation. Using a network of PAM platforms, I estimated the quasi-synoptic NARW distribution from the Bay of Fundy to the Labrador Sea, revealing that the current geographic distribution of the species may be constrained to temperate-subarctic latitudinal ranges. In a performance study, I identified the strengths and weaknesses of acoustic gliders equipped with a real-time PAM system as a tool to inform dynamic fishery management designed to minimize NARW entanglements in the Gulf of St Lawrence. Overall, my thesis provides critical information needed to implement PAM in decision-making to mitigate human caused risks to NARWs as well as improve Canada’s ability to economically and sustainably monitor the species.