Movement patterns and winter habitat use of narwhal (Monodon monoceros) in the Eastern Canadian Arctic

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Kenyon, Krista
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Climate change is reducing the Arctic sea ice concentration and extent and it has been thought that narwhal will be poorly able to adjust. The goal of this thesis was to (a) analyzing narwhal year-round movement, and to (b) examine winter habitat selection in relation to sea ice and bathymetry. Narwhal from Admiralty Inlet and Eclipse Sound were equipped with satellite transmitters between 2009 and 2012. Narwhal conducted multiple late-summer movement patterns with three stocks overlapping, had a delayed fall migration compared to a tagging studies a decade earlier, and had decreased summer site fidelity. During the winter narwhal selected 1500 to 2000 m depths, which likely have higher prey densities, regardless of the mobile pack ice structure. They also conducted extensive movements coinciding with a delayed growth in sea ice extent. These results indicate that narwhal may be more able to adjust to habitat changes than previously believed.
migration, animal telemetry, winter sea ice, Greenland halibut, Baffin Bay, bathymetry, habitat selection