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Abundance of harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) in the western Baltic, Belt Seas and Kattegat
Viquerat, S.; Herr, H.; Gilles, A.; Peschko, V.; Siebert, U.; Sveegaard, S.; Teilmann, J. (2014). Abundance of harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) in the western Baltic, Belt Seas and Kattegat. Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 161(4): 745-754.
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Viquerat, S.
  • Herr, H.
  • Gilles, A.
  • Peschko, V.
  • Siebert, U.
  • Sveegaard, S.
  • Teilmann, J.

    In July 2012, a ship-board double-platform line-transect survey was conducted to assess harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) abundance in the Kattegat, Belt Seas and the Western Baltic. A total of 826 km of track lines were surveyed between the 2nd and 21st of July 2012, and 169 observations were made by the primary observers, comprising a total of 230 porpoises. Fifty-seven observations were identified as duplicate sightings observed by both tracker and primary observers and were used to correct for availability and perception bias of the primary detections. Using Mark–Recapture Distance Sampling analysis, we produced a model using the half-normal key function, including sightability as the only covariate to estimate the density and abundance of harbour porpoise within the 51,511 km2 survey area. Estimated detection probability on the transect line, known as g(0), was at 0.571 (±0.074; CV = 0.130). Using a point independence model of the detection function, the abundance of harbour porpoises within the survey area was estimated at 40,475 animals (95 % CI 25,614–65,041, CV = 0.235) with an associated density of 0.786 animals km-2 (95 % CI 0.498–1.242, CV = 0.235) and an average group size of 1.488 animals. These results reflect densities obtained during the SCANS surveys in 1994 and 2005, indicating no significant population trend in the area. However, it should be noted that the survey area covers more than one population and that results are therefore not necessarily reflecting local population trends. Until proper population borders are obtained, the abundance estimate provides baseline data for future monitoring and is an important input to the assessment of the conservation status of harbour porpoises in the area.

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