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New Collaborative Study that Employs Humpback Whales to Locate Elusive Forage Fish
As part of the Gulf Watch Alaska program, USGS Alaska Science Center forage fish researchers Mayumi Arimitsu and John Piatt will team up with humpback whale investigators at NOAA, University of Alaska Southeast, and Prince William Sound Science Center in a new collaboration that aims to employ whales to locate prey resources in Prince William Sound. Humpback whales are efficient predators of patchily distributed forage species such as herring, capelin, and krill. Large aggregations of whales are usually strong indications that high-density prey schools are nearby. In July and September 2014, USGS will conduct hydroacoustic and trawl surveys to measure prey school densities in humpback whale hotspots and on fixed transects. Collaboration among researchers will facilitate broader understanding of whale foraging dynamics and the distribution, species composition, density and depth of forage fish populations in the Sound.