Science and Exploration
First “Megapclicks” Recorded
For the first time, researchers have recorded “megapclicks” a series of clicks and buzzes from humpback whales during nighttime feeding behaviors in and around Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. The study offers the first documentation that baleen whales produce this type of sound, normally associated with toothed whales. Researchers have known that humpback whales exhibit a variety of foraging behaviors and vocalizations, but these animals and other baleen whales were not known to produce broadband clicks in association with feeding. This type of research will help managers find the best ways to understand whale behavior in order to develop further protection methods.
Reports on Health of Sanctuaries Released in 2007
In 2007, the sanctuary program released two in a series of reports evaluating the health of the nation’s marine sanctuaries. These condition reports examine the status of everything from water quality to endangered whale populations, and provide a wealth of information about the complex marine resources and archaeological sites found in sanctuary waters. The reports will give marine resource managers an unprecedented ability to evaluate environmental changes and potential threats to some of the nation’s most precious underwater areas, allowing them to make well-informed and timely management decisions. The 2007 reports highlight Stellwagen Bank and Fagatele Bay national marine sanctuaries. Stellwagen Bank’s report examines the status of sanctuary resources including water and habitat quality, fish and invasive species, and endangered right whale population. Topping the list of concerns in Fagatele Bay’s report are threats like blast fishing and other harmful, prohibited fishing practices, as well as increased coral bleaching events caused by elevated surface water temperatures. But the report also states that habitat and water quality in the sanctuary are in very good condition. Regulations that prohibit or restrict human activities, such as dredging and discharging, are in place at both sanctuaries.
Research Cruises Provide Valuable Information for Resource Protection
Research cruises to all our sanctuaries continue to provide invaluable information to researchers and managers about the health and stability of marine habitats and species within our protected waters. For example, researchers visited Papaha¯naumokua¯kea Marine National Monument, where they looked at coral health, apex predator movement and photographed deep sea organisms that had never before been captured on film. Information gathered from all cruises will help staff develop ecosystem approaches to managing and supporting marine science and education efforts, and develop management plans to best address threats to sanctuary resources. A full list of research cruises to the sanctuaries is available at sanctuaries.noaa.gov.