Progress Report on Passive Acoustic Monitoring of the Eastern South Pacific Southern Right Whales, a Key to Improve Conservation Management Plan Outputs: May 2020-April 2021
B?rbara Galletti Vernazzani, Susannah J. Buchan, Robert L. Brownell Jr., Danielle Cholewiak, Elisa Goya, Sue Moore, Iv?n P?rez-Santos, Constanza Rojas
Eastern South Pacific southern right whale (Chile-Peru Subpopulation) are Critically Endangered and the IWC adopted a Conservation Management Plan for this population. A Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) project is ongoing to facilitate the identification of potential breeding areas along the coast of Chile and Peru. One-year of data was successfully collected from Isla de Chiloe southern Chile, and five months from Arauco Gulf, central Chile. A southern right whale automatic detector was developed, and acoustic data analysis have been completed. The automatic detector was used to detect upcalls. Recordings have been visually inspected after upcalls detections were confirmed to investigate the presence of gunshots, associated to possible male reproductive sounds. Off Isla de Chiloe, 189 upcalls (true positives) were detected in summer, autumn and winter 2018-2019, with a peaks in December 2018 and March 2019. Gunshots were heard in March 2019. No calls were detected in recordings collected off Arauco Gulf from September 2019 to January 2020. Preliminary results on the presence of southern right whale off Isla de Chiloe and detection of gunshots highlights the importance of the area for a small population and provides a better understanding of their habitat use. Planning and arrangements to monitor Mejillones Peninsula are ongoing and deployments are expected to occur from June 2021-2022. Next proposed locations sites for 2022-2023 includes the passive acoustic monitoring of Ilo, southern Peru and Golfo de Penas, austral Chile. These additional sites would almost finish to cover monitoring over the entire range of this southern right whale population.