Review of potential line-transect methodologies for estimating abundance of dolphin stocks in the eastern tropical Pacific

A twelve-year hiatus in fishery-independent marine mammal surveys in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean (ETP), combined with a mandate to monitor dolphin stock status under international agreements and the need for reliable stock status information to set dolphin bycatch limits in the tuna purse-seine fishery, has renewed debate about how best to assess and monitor ETP dolphin stock status. The high cost of replicating previous ship-based surveys has intensified this debate. In this review, transect methods for estimating animal abundance from dedicated research surveys are considered, with a focus on both contemporary and potential methods suitable for surveying large areas for dolphin species that can form large, multi-species aggregations. Covered in this review are potential improvements to the previous ship-based survey methodology, other ship-based methods, alternative approaches based on high-resolution imagery and passive acoustics, and combinations of ship-based and alternative approaches. It is concluded that for immediate management needs, ship-based surveys, with some suggested modifications to improve precision, are the only reliable option despite their high cost. However, it is recommended that a top research priority should be development of composite methods. Pilot studies on the use of high-resolution imagery and passive acoustics for development of indices of relative abundance to be used in composite methods should be part of any future ship-based survey efforts.


Publication status:
Authors: Lennert-Cody, Cleridy E, Buckland, Stephen T, Gerrodette, Tim, Webb, Andrew, Barlow, Jay, Fretwell, Peter ORCID, Maunder, Mark N, Kitakado, Toshihide, Moore, Jeffrey E, Scott, Michael D, Skaug, Hans J

On this site: Peter Fretwell
1 January, 2018
Journal of Cetacean Research and Management / 19