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Research Document - 2012/046

Satellite tracking of narwhals (Monodon monoceros) from Admiralty Inlet (2009) and Eclipse Sound (2010 2011)

By C.A. Watt, J. Orr, B. LeBlanc, P. Richard, and S.H. Ferguson


Seven satellite tags attached to narwhal (Monodon monoceros) in 2009 in Admiralty Inlet, and five and seven tags in Tremblay Sound in 2010 and 2011 respectively, provided information on movements, overwintering regions, and site fidelity within and between years. Based on past tracking studies, as well as some genetic and contaminant analyses, the narwhals from Admiralty Inlet and Eclipse Sound are considered separate summering stocks. The present study found (1) a greater degree of range overlap between Eclipse Sound and Admiralty Inlet, both within and between years, than had been documented in past studies; (2) a single narwhal overwintered in northern Foxe Basin, a region in which narwhals have rarely been known to spend the winter; and (3) a narwhal spent time in January in Disko Bay, Greenland, the first time a narwhal tagged in Canada spent time along the West Greenland coast where winter hunting occurs. These results confirm there is some spatial overlap among narwhals particularly from Admiralty Inlet and Eclipse Sound stocks outside the summer season. In addition, the Admiralty Inlet and Eclipse Sound summering aggregations had some degree of mixing during the 2011 summer season. Further tracking of narwhals from these two stocks is required to determine if the recent movements are typical of a greater proportion of the population.

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