Temporal patterns of target catch and sea turtle bycatch in the U.S. Atlantic pelagic longline fishing fleet
Connie Y. Kot, Andre M. Boustany, and Patrick N. Halpin
Sea turtle bycatch in pelagic longline fishing gear is an ongoing threat to the conservation of sea turtle populations. However, these bycatch events do not occur uniformly in space or time. Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea
) and loggerhead (Caretta caretta
) bycatch rates reported in large fishing regions exhibited different degrees of interannual variability. Target catch and sea turtle bycatch in most regions displayed strong periodicity that corresponded to seasons (~365 days) and/or moon phase (~29 days). When trends in catch and bycatch rates were examined by month and moon phase, the significant periods of higher and lower catch and bycatch related to swordfish (Xiphias gladius), yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares), and sea turtle temporal distributions in foraging and spawning/nesting, oceanographic and prey conditions, and foraging behavior. Catch and bycatch rates tended to depend more on a seasonal rather than a lunar time scale, although there is likely an interaction between the two. These findings provide insights to the susceptibility of target catch and bycatch, regional and temporal patterns of fishing effort, and potential guidance for resource management and conservation.
OBIS-SEAMAP: an online portal for marine mammal observations
Lucie J. Hazen, Ei Fujioka, Patrick. N. Halpin, Andrew J. Read, Benjamin D. Best, Connie Y. Kot, Kimberly Urian, Benjamin Donnelly, Andrew DiMatteo, Erin A. LaBrecque, Melissa Soldevilla, and Caroline Good
OBIS-SEAMAP, an online information system for marine mammal, seabird and sea turtle data, is an open access repository and web-based data center of high quality observations.OBIS-SEAMAP brings together georeferenced sightings, telemetry and acoustics data with tools to query and assess these species in a dynamic and searchable environment. By combining data from individual research programs at multiple spatial and temporal scales into a global database, we can obtain a more complete picture of the biology, distribution and conservation status of these widely distributed animals. The open-access web-based approach utilized by OBIS-SEAMAP allows a global audience of researchers, students, educators and managers to: 1) map species distributions together with oceanographic information; 2) visualize species distributions with a multi-resolution, spatially and temporally interactive online map interface; and 3) search and download data of interest using multi-faceted criteria. Significantly, data providers benefit from the secure off-site back-up service, the opportunity to reach a global audience and the resultant collaborative potential, increased data quality assurance and quality control, and a suite of visualization tools to examine their own data geographically and temporally.
OBIS-SEAMAP as a Toolbox for Managing Sea Duck Tracking Data
Ramūnas Žydelis, Patrick N. Halpin, Andrew J. Read, Benjamin D. Best, Ei Fujioka, Lucie J. Hazen, and Connie Kot
Our ability to understand, conserve and manage marine biodiversity is fundamentally limited by the availability of relevant taxonomic, distribution and abundance data. The OBIS-SEAMAP is a web-based geo-database of marine mammal, seabird (including sea ducks) and sea turtle distribution and abundance data globally. The OBIS-SEAMAP information system is aimed to support research, management and conservation of marine megavertebrates through promoting scientific data commons and providing users with a broad array of web-based products and services. The database supports georeferenced data of animal distributions at sea, colony based counts and tracking information and is
open to all marine biologists sharing vision of data commons and partnership. Boat, shore and aerial surveys and telemetry data are submitted by government, academic, industry and non-profit providers by communicating directly with archive developers and using data content management system. Contributing satellite tracking information might seem particularly appealing to sea duck investigators and ongoing tracking data could be assimilated directly through Satellite Tracking and Analysis Tool (STAT). The OBIS-SEAMAP archive is equipped with multi-faceted data search and extraction, state-of-art online mapping and cutting edge viewing features, including animated animal movements, which will be demonstrated at the Sea Duck Conference using a sample of an actual sea duck tracking dataset. Contributed datasets are standardized, integrated with rich species profiles and compliant metadata. In addition to benefiting from the toolset available at OBIS-SEAMAP, data contributors increase their visibility, public outreach and develop potential for new collaborations. We encourage you to contribute your datasets to OBIS-SEAMAP and to contact us with suggestions of how to refine and improve the archive. The OBIS-SEAMAP database is accessible online at: http://seamap.env.duke.edu.
OBIS-SEAMAP: The world data center for marine mammal, sea bird and sea turtle distributions
Patrick N. Halpin, Andrew J. Read, Ei Fujioka, Ben D. Best, Ben Donnelly, Lucie J. Hazen, Connie Kot, Kim Urian, Erin LaBrecque, Caroline Good, Larry B. Crowder, and K. David Hyrenbach
The science needed to understand highly migratory marine mammal, sea bird and sea turtle species is not adequately addressed by individual data collections developed for a single region or single time period. These data must to be brought together into a common, global map based on a coherent, interoperable and openly accessible information system. This need was clearly articulated by the National Ocean Partnership Program (NOPP) in partnership with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation when they sponsored a new effort to directly address this issue in 2002. The result is OBIS-SEAMAP: The world data-center for marine mammal, sea bird and sea turtle information. OBIS-SEAMAP brings together georeferenced distribution, abundance and telemetry data with tools to query and assess these species in a dynamic and searchable environment. In a second round of NOPP support beginning in 2007, the National Science Foundation is helping expand this effort into new technologies and data types. To date, the OBIS-SEAMAP information system includes more than 2.2 million observation records from over 230 datasets, spanning 73 years (1935 - 2008) and growth of this data archive is accelerating. All of these data are provided by a growing international network of individual and institutional data providers.
OBIS-SEAMAP Version 2.0: Improvements in Mapping Marine Megavertebrates
Patrick N. Halpin, Andrew J. Read, Benjamin D. Best, Ei Fujioka, Lucie J. Hazen, Benjamin Donnelly, Erin LaBrecque, Connie Kot, and Kim Urian
We report on the ongoing development and improvement of a digital information system which provides critical data on the distribution of marine megavertebrates to scientists, managers and educators. The OBIS-SEAMAP (Ocean Biogeographic Information System - Spatial Ecological Analysis of Megavertebrate Populations) program (http://seamap.env.duke.edu) is designed to make high-quality data sets, ecological models and expert knowledge available to these communities. The archive currently hosts 212 datasets including over 1.15 million observations. We are in the midst of a comprehensive inventory and data exploration, so these numbers will markedly increase in the near future. Now in its fifth year, the project provides a suite of advanced web services for the storage, analysis and visualization of geospatial datasets related to the biogeography of marine mammals, seabirds and sea turtles. Boat, shore and aerial surveys and telemetry data are submitted by government, academic, industry and non-profit providers through an automated data content management system. With three additional years of funding secured from the National Oceanographic Partnership Program and the National Science Foundation, we are working to enhance this archive by incorporating new data types (acoustics, photo-id, 3D dive profiles), model outputs, web services, environmental sampling capabilities, and automated population of metadata clearinghouses. We encourage you to contribute your data sets to OBIS-SEAMAP and to contact us with suggestions of how to refine and improve the archive.
A comparison of methods to spatially represent pelagic longline fishing effort in catch and bycatch studies
Daniel C. Dunn, Connie Y. Kot, and Patrick N. Halpin
Bycatch in fisheries has been recognized as a threat to many endangered populations of sea turtles, sea birds and marine mammals. Interactions between pelagic longline fisheries and critically endangered populations of leatherback sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea
) have led to temporary closures of the Hawaiian pelagic longline swordfish fishery and severe bycatch quotas. The negative impact of these events on both the populations of certain endangered species and the economic livelihood of the fishermen has resulted in a strong push from all sides to better understand bycatch events. Typically, analyses of longline catch and bycatch have examined fishing effort summarized over large areas (=1 degree). Although aggregation of effort to this level may be necessary to account for uncertainty, confidentiality concerns, or to make comparisons across regions, it specifically limits the researcher's ability to characterize the local oceanographic factors that may drive individual bycatch events. Higher resolution analyses must be undertaken to identify such features. However, for these higher resolution analyses, the methods currently used to spatially represent pelagic longline fishing effort may significantly affect researcher's results. Here, we look at different methods to represent this fishing effort (i.e., points, centroids, polylines and polygons) at various resolutions (2 km to 5 degrees) to better understand which method and spatial resolution are most appropriate. Our results validate the use of point features to represent fishing effort in previous low resolution studies of the Hawaiian pelagic longline fishery by showing that the set point method is suitable for studies with resolutions lower than 15 km. However, at higher resolutions (= 15 km) and in areas with more sparsely distributed fishing, aggregated effort values differed significantly between spatial representation methods. We demonstrate that the use of polygons to describe pelagic longline fishing effort is more representative and necessary for such high resolution analyses.
A summary review of sea turtle bycatch in the wider Caribbean
Rhema Bjorkland, Daniel Dunn, Larry Crowder, Karen Eckert, Scott Eckert, Connie Kot, Sara McDonald, and Andre Boustany
Fisheries bycatch has been identified as an important source of mortality for many sea turtle populations in the Western Central Atlantic. Formal assessments are scarce and are typically restricted geographically (e.g., Trinidad and Tobago; the Guianas) or by gear type (e.g., industrial or semi-industrial trawls and longlines). Our objective was to develop a region-wide assessment of sea turtle bycatch as part of a global, multi-taxa assessment sea turtle, marine mammal and seabird bycatch. Using multiple approaches (literature review, interview-based surveys, and observer data) our analysis provides a comprehensive overview of the current status of knowledge of sea turtle bycatch. The results are used to generate a preliminary model of the relationship between fishing intensity, oceanography and bycatch risk.
A GIS management tool to reduce sea turtle bycatch
Ken R. Buja and Connie Y. Kot
Five species of sea turtles inhabiting the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico are listed as either endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). None of the species have yet met the recovery goals outlined in their respective recovery plans. To help meet ESA recovery goals for sea turtles, NOAA's National Marine Fishery Service (NMFS) is implementing a strategy for sea turtle conservation and recovery in relation to Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico fisheries to reduce incidental capture of sea turtles in commercial and recreational fisheries. A strategic approach evaluating fishery impacts by gear types across state, federal, and regional boundaries will increase management effectiveness. The development of a dynamic GIS by NOAA's Biogeography Program for sea turtles to facilitate the implementation of the strategy is a key baseline need and will also assist NMFS in meeting other ESA and legislative responsibilities.
An ecological characterization of the Gulf of Maine region
Bryan Costa, Tim Battista, Simon Pittman, Randy Clark, Connie Kot, Kate Eschelbach, Falk Huettmann, and Ian Hartwell
The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Center for Coastal Monitoring and Assessment's (CCMA) Biogeography Team collaborated with the National Marine Sanctuaries Program (NMSP) to perform a biogeographic assessment of the marine region surrounding Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. This work integrated physical and biological GIS and remotely sensed datasets in an effort to temporally and spatially characterize fish, seabird, macroinvertebrate, and marine mammal distributions in the Gulf of Maine. The resulting statistical relationships among these variables were used to predict cetacean and seabird species distributions where there were gaps in the survey effort. Predictive models such as these offer promising opportunities to extrapolate information to broad spatial scales, allowing resource managers make informed decisions in support of ecosystem-based management.
Alternative methods to spatially distribute fishing effort within the Hawaiian longline fishery and coresponding effects on the calculation of bycatch rates
Daniel C. Dunn, Connie Y. Kot, and Patrick N. Halpin
Bycatch in longline fisheries has been recognized as a threat to many endangered populations of sea turtles, sea birds, and marine mammals. The health of endangered species populations, combined with the economic and social importance of the fisheries, have led to studies that investigate the spatial distribution of longline fisheries effort to understand catch and bycatch rates. These analyses generally ascribe effort from an individual set to the point at which the gear is deployed or hauled. Typically, reported fishing effort summarizes these values over large areas (>1 degree). Although the set or haul locations may be sufficient for large-scale summaries of general fishing effort, finer-resolution models, such as those associating local oceanographic effects to catch or bycatch rates, may be strongly influenced by the method used to spatially allocate fishing effort. As part of a larger Duke University and Blue Ocean Institute bycatch assessment project (Project GLOBAL), we look at alternative methods (i.e., centroids, polylines, and polygons) for distributing fishing effort of the Hawaiian longline fleet. This assessment helps to determine the appropriate method for distributing fishing effort based on the resolution of the model.
Cetacean distribution and diversity, Chapter 5 - An Ecological Characterization of the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary Region
Simon Pittman, Bryan Costa, Connie Kot, David Wiley, and Robert Kenney
The effective management and conservation of cetaceans within SBNMS and the wider Gulf of Maine requires baseline information in the form of accurate and spatially explicit maps of cetacean abundance, as well as characterizations of cetacean-environment relationships. Information on the spatial and temporal distribution of cetaceans can be a valuable tool in the analysis and mitigation of threats from human activity. In addition, investigating
cetacean-environment relationships can be extremely useful for: (1) identification and characterization of high-use areas; (2) prediction of spatial and temporal shifts associated with environmental change; (3) interpretation of historical population trends estimated from sightings data; and (4) optimization of cetacean survey designs.
To examine cetacean-environment relationships and the spatial and temporal patterns of relative abundance in the southern Gulf of Maine, cetacean abundance across the region was mapped and seasonal species patterns were interpreted. A wide range of environmental variables that include key ambient water parameters, bathymetric structure, and prey densities were also mapped for each season. The spatial extent of the study area included known feeding grounds and other high-use areas, such as corridors of cetacean movement within the SBNMS and the surrounding southern Gulf of Maine.
Development and Evaluation of an Estuarine Biotic Integriy Index for South Carolina Tidal Creeks
Connie Y. Moy
Large-scale environmental monitoring studies require a great amount of time and energy to complete. Often, a more efficient method to monitor environmental condition is to concentrate on biological communities. Fish communities are desirable environmental indicators due to their ability to directly integrate physical, chemical, and biological conditions. Data collected in tidal creeks for the South Carolina Estuarine and Coastal Assessment Program (SCECAP) during the 1999-2002 sampling seasons were used to determine the relationship between environmental quality and fish community measures. Statistical analyses, previous studies, and ecological concepts directed the selection of fish metrics that were the best discriminators of environmental quality. Potential multimetric estuarine biotic integrity (EBI) indices used combinations of fish metrics to calculate a single score to predict environmental quality. The final EBI index developed and evaluated for South Carolina tidal creeks used metrics that described fish life history, ecological composition, tolerance, and community structure. These metrics were sensitive in determining environmental quality as described by water, sediment, and upland quality parameters, and should be among the primary metrics considered for the development of future indices.