Changes in Sea Ice and Range Expansion of Sperm Whales in the Pond Inlet
Region of Baffin Bay, Canada
Sperm whales are a cosmopolitan species only found in ice-free regions.
Understanding the distribution of sperm whales in regions undergoing
rapid loss of sea ice and ocean warming is important. In 2014 and 2018,
sperm whales were sighted in the Pond Inlet, Baffin Bay: the first
recorded uses of this region. We investigated sperm whale distribution
near the Pond Inlet using visual sighting and passive acoustic data from
two recording sites between 2015 and 2019. We found no records of sperm
whale sightings near Pond Inlet outside of the 2014/2018 observations.
However, the acoustic data revealed whale presence yearly from 2015-2019
in the late summer and fall months. Sperm whale presence increased over
the 5-year study duration and was closely related to sea ice extent.
Monitoring climate change-induced range expansion of sperm whales is
important to understand how increasing presence of a top-predator might
impact the Arctic food web.