Collaborative Research Program Focusing on Behavioral Ecology and Reactions to Sound Populations of Short-Finned pilot Whales and Other Cetaceans Off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.

The Navy has sponsored a series of behavioral response studies to determine biologically
significant behavioral responses from Navy sound sources. These studies have required
large research vessels capable of supporting the sound sources used in controlled exposure
experiments. The first phase of the project we are proposing will involve assembling a team
and collecting comprehensive baseline data on pilot whales off Cape Hatteras in FY10. We
believe that the development of a team with capabilities for low‐cost field experiments will
represent a significant contribution to existing capabilities for studying responses of
cetaceans to anthropogenic sounds. Ongoing research is currently examining the responses
of priority species to Navy sounds on ranges where sonar is frequently used. The project
we are proposing addresses the critical need to develop field sites for similar research
where animals are more naïve to sonar and other naval sounds. The baseline data we will
collect in FY10 will help to determine the distribution and abundance of marine mammal
species off Cape Hatteras and to describe the behavioral ecology of a priority species. These
data are critical for establishing baselines that can be used in analyses of behavioral
responses to Navy sound sources during later work.