Document Type

Article

Date of Original Version

1986

Abstract

Results of the Cetacean and Turtle Assessment Program previously demonstrated at a qualitative level that specific areas of the continental shelf waters off the northeastern U.S. coast consistently showed high-density utilization by several cetacean species. We have quantified, on a multispecies basis and with adjustment for level of survey effort, the intensity of habitat use by whales and dolphins, and defined areas of expecially high-intensity utilization. The results demonstrate that the area off the northeast United States, which is used most intensively as cetacean habitat, is the western margin of the Gulf of Maine, from the Great South Channel to Stellwagen Bank and Jeffreys Ledge. Secondary high-use areas include the continental shelf edge and the region around the eastern end of Georges Bank. High-use areas for piscivorous cetaceans are concentrated mainly in the western Gulf of Maine and secondarily at mid-shelf east of the Chesapeake region, for planktivores in the western Gulf of Maine and the southwestern and eastern portions of Georges Bank, and for teuthivores along the edge of the shelf. In general, habitat use by cetaceans is highest in spring and summer, and lowest in fall and winter.

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