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Norfolk/VA Beach MINEX Vessel Surveys

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Availability: Creative Commons License This dataset is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

A combination of visual line-transect survey, photo-identification (photo-ID), and automated acoustic monitoring methods is being used to gather important baseline information on the occurrence, distribution, and density of marine mammals near Naval Station Norfolk (NSN) and adjacent areas. The study area was chosen to cover areas where United States (U.S.) Navy activity is substantial, including Chesapeake Bay waters near Naval Station Norfolk, Joint Expeditionary Base (JEB) Little Creek (LC), and JEB Fort Story, as well as a Mine Exercise (MINEX) Area (W-50) in the Atlantic off the coast of Virginia Beach, Virginia. Twenty-five line-transect surveys were completed in two zones (INSHORE and MINEX) between August 2012 and November 2013, with 2,810 kilometers (km) and 8,942 minutes completed on-effort. more

The majority of sightings were bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), although humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) and short-beaked common dolphins (Delphinus delphis) were also sighted in the study area on occasion. In addition, loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) and leatherback sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) were sighted during the study period. Conventional line-transect analysis of bottlenose dolphin sightings showed both spatial and seasonal variation in density and abundance, with greatest abundance in the INSHORE zone during summer months. INSHORE densities were calculated as 3.05 individuals per square kilometer (km2) (N=948) in fall, 0.40 individuals per km2 (N=123) in winter, 1.09 individuals per km2 (N=337) in spring, and 3.52 individuals per km2 (N=1,094) in summer. MINEX densities were calculated as 0.11 individuals per km2 (N=105) in fall, 0.00 individuals per km2 (N=0) in winter, 0.10 individuals per km2 (N=90) in spring, and 0.16 individuals per km2 (N=148) in summer. A photo-ID catalog was created using photos taken during both dedicated photo-ID and line-transect surveys through July 2013; it contains 308 identified individuals to date. Thirty-three individuals were re-sighted; however, most sightings were less than three months and 15 km apart. Additional survey effort will be required before any clear movement patterns can be determined. C-POD acoustic data loggers ( were deployed at four sites throughout the study area to cover areas of high U.S. Navy activity. Harbor porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) were detected in low numbers near NSN and JEB-LC during winter and spring deployments, and bottlenose dolphins were detected in each deployment location during all deployments from August 2012 to September 2013. Deployments, however, did not provide consistent coverage due to loss of gear. Further study is required to improve accuracy in seasonal density estimates and allow further stratification of those estimates, and to better describe the movement patterns and site fidelity of the bottlenose dolphins in these waters. Visual surveys and additional C-POD deployments are currently planned through August 2014.

Purpose: The HDR Marine Species Monitoring (MSM) Team was tasked to initiate a monitoring project in coastal waters around NSN, JEB-LC, JEB-FS, and the Virginia Beach waterfront, including the VACAPES MINEX W-50 training area. The main objective is to provide quantitative data and information on the seasonal occurrence, distribution, and density of marine mammals. Effort was dedicated to working with local researchers and employing proven marine mammal monitoring and research techniques to accomplish the following: 1. Conduct monthly systematic line-transect surveys to determine distribution of marine mammals in the vicinity of NSN, JEB-LC, JEB-FS, and the MINEX W-50 area. 2. Conduct monthly photo-identification (photo-ID) surveys during summer months to determine the site fidelity and distributional patterns of marine mammals utilizing the areas listed above. 3. Supplement visual surveys by deploying and retrieving four C-POD acoustic recording devices to monitor for dolphin echolocation clicks in specific locations.

Supplemental information: [2014-11-25] Attributes were reorganized so that they meet provider's data schema and effort data (tracklines) were added. The project is on-going and more data will be added periodically. The sighting coordinates represent the locations of the animals (not the vessel platform) calculated from reticle and bearing.

Biology > Mammals, Biology > Reptiles
Marine, ANW, USA, Virginia, Caretta caretta (Linnaeus, 1758), Delphinus delphis Linnaeus, 1758, Dermochelys coriacea (Vandelli, 1761), Megaptera novaeangliae (Borowski, 1781), Tursiops truncatus (Montagu, 1821)

Geographical coverage
ANW, USA, Virginia [Marine Regions]

Temporal coverage
8 August 2012 - 30 October 2013

Taxonomic coverage
Caretta caretta (Linnaeus, 1758) [WoRMS]
Delphinus delphis Linnaeus, 1758 [WoRMS]
Dermochelys coriacea (Vandelli, 1761) [WoRMS]
Megaptera novaeangliae (Borowski, 1781) [WoRMS]
Tursiops truncatus (Montagu, 1821) [WoRMS]

Animal sightings, Occurrence of biota

HDR Environmental, Operations and Construction, Inc., moredata creator

Related datasets
Published in:
OBIS-SEAMAP: Spatial Ecological Analysis of Megavertebrate Populations, more

Dataset status: Completed
Data type: Data
Data origin: Monitoring: field survey
Metadatarecord created: 2015-04-14
Information last updated: 2015-04-14
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