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Kate Stafford

Principal Oceanographer

Affiliate Associate Professor, Oceanography

Email

stafford@apl.washington.edu

Phone

206-685-8617

Department Affiliation

Acoustics

Publications

2000-present and while at APL-UW

Spatial and temporal trends in fin whale vocalizations recorded in the NE Pacific Ocean between 2003–2013

Weirathmueller, M.J., K.M. Stafford, W.S.D. Wilcock, R.S. Hilmo, R.P. Dziak, and A.M. Tréhu, "Spatial and temporal trends in fin whale vocalizations recorded in the NE Pacific Ocean between 2003–2013," Plos One, 12, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0186127, 2017.

More Info

26 Oct 2017

In order to study the long-term stability of fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus) singing behavior, the frequency and inter-pulse interval of fin whale 20 Hz vocalizations were observed over 10 years from 2003–2013 from bottom mounted hydrophones and seismometers in the northeast Pacific Ocean. The instrument locations extended from 40°N to 48°N and 130°W to 125°W with water depths ranging from 1500–4000 m. The inter-pulse interval (IPI) of fin whale song sequences was observed to increase at a rate of 0.54 seconds/year over the decade of observation. During the same time period, peak frequency decreased at a rate of 0.17 Hz/year. Two primary call patterns were observed. During the earlier years, the more commonly observed pattern had a single frequency and single IPI. In later years, a doublet pattern emerged, with two dominant frequencies and IPIs. Many call sequences in the intervening years appeared to represent a transitional state between the two patterns. The overall trend was consistent across the entire geographical span, although some regional differences exist. Understanding changes in acoustic behavior over long time periods is needed to help establish whether acoustic characteristics can be used to help determine population identity in a widely distributed, difficult to study species such as the fin whale.

Long-term passive acoustic recordings track the changing distribution of North Atlantic right whales (Eubalaena glacialis) from 2004 to 2014

Davis, G.E., and 35 others including K. Stafford, "Long-term passive acoustic recordings track the changing distribution of North Atlantic right whales (Eubalaena glacialis) from 2004 to 2014," Sci. Rep., 7, 13460, doi:10.1038/s41598-017-13359-3, 2017.

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18 Oct 2017

Given new distribution patterns of the endangered North Atlantic right whale (NARW; Eubalaena glacialis) population in recent years, an improved understanding of spatio-temporal movements are imperative for the conservation of this species. While so far visual data have provided most information on NARW movements, passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) was used in this study in order to better capture year-round NARW presence. This project used PAM data from 2004 to 2014 collected by 19 organizations throughout the western North Atlantic Ocean. Overall, data from 324 recorders (35,600 days) were processed and analyzed using a classification and detection system. Results highlight almost year-round habitat use of the western North Atlantic Ocean, with a decrease in detections in waters off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina in summer and fall. Data collected post 2010 showed an increased NARW presence in the mid-Atlantic region and a simultaneous decrease in the northern Gulf of Maine. In addition, NARWs were widely distributed across most regions throughout winter months. This study demonstrates that a large-scale analysis of PAM data provides significant value to understanding and tracking shifts in large whale movements over long time scales.

The underwater soundscape in western Fram Strait: Breeding ground of Spitsbergen's endangered bowhead whales

Ahonen, H., K.M. Stafford, L. de Steur, C. Lydersen, Ø. Wiig, and K.M. Kovacs, "The underwater soundscape in western Fram Strait: Breeding ground of Spitsbergen's endangered bowhead whales," Mar. Pollut. Bull., EOR, doi:10.1016/j.marpolbul.2017.09.019, 2017.

More Info

20 Sep 2017

Highlights

- At present, underwater sound levels in western Fram Strait are low to moderate (< 60 dB).
- Shipping activity is low, but seismic surveys occur nearby in summer/autumn.
- Critically endangered bowhead whales are present in the area throughout most of the year.
- Currently, little human activity overlaps with bowhead winter occurrence.

More Publications

In The News

Arctic ballad

The Planet Magazine, Keiko Betcher

Seattle scientist Kate Stafford listens to whale songs to measure how melting sea ice affects mammals in the Arctic.

16 Mar 2017

Arctic sea ice loss impacts beluga whale migration

UW News and Information, Michelle Ma

The annual migration of some beluga whales in Alaska is altered by sea ice changes in the Arctic, while other belugas do not appear to be affected.

5 Jan 2017

The whale wiretap: Oceanographer's underwater microphones eavesdrop on the secret lives of whales

KPLU Radio, Allie Ferguson

Deep down on the sea floor off the coast of Alaska, about a dozen underwater microphones sit. Kate Stafford listens back to these recordings with the help of high-tech software to learn more about whales. Sound Effect's Gabriel Spitzer talked with her about what she's learned and what it's like to eavesdrop on the ocean.

9 Apr 2016

More News Items

Acoustics Air-Sea Interaction & Remote Sensing Center for Environmental & Information Systems Center for Industrial & Medical Ultrasound Electronic & Photonic Systems Ocean Engineering Ocean Physics Polar Science Center
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