Current research projects (2019-2024)
Camera community-based Arctic marine mammal studies (CCAMMS)
Marine mammals in the Arctic are facing an increasing presence of human activities including shipping and marine construction. For example, marine mammals in the northern Baffin Island area have been exposed to increased shipping and ice breaking related to the Baffinland Mary River mine, as well as noise from construction of mine ports and small craft harbours. In addition, other changes in the environment, such as climate change and prey availability or presence of predators, may impact marine mammal fitness and ultimately their population size. While hunters are reporting negative changes in relative number and opportunities of the species they hunt, it has been challenging to consistently document and relate changes to a specific stressor.
This project will co-develop monitoring methods with communities that can be implemented from small vessels or shore, and will be led by locally trained team members in communities across Nunavut and Inuvialuit. Monitoring methods will take advantage of advances in non-invasive technologies including aerial imagery (e.g., drones) and stationary camera technologies as well as automated processing of multiple images to document marine mammal behavior, health, and demographics. This project will contribute to building science and research capacity in the North by providing workshops and training opportunities, and creating guidelines to support ethical marine mammal monitoring based on local interests. In addition, we will gather baseline data on the status of marine mammal populations across seasons and years and at various locations to document spatial and temporal variability and tease apart the cumulative impacts of multiple stressors.