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Evaluation of high-powered binoculars to detect inter-year changes in offshore distribution of eastern North Pacific gray whales



Evaluation of high-powered binoculars to detect inter-year changes in offshore distribution of eastern North Pacific gray whales



Journal of Cetacean Research and ManagementSpring; 4(1): 57-61



Paired, independent searches for gray whales (Eschrichtius robustus) were conducted through fix-mounted, 25-power binoculars during January 1995 and 1996 at Granite Canyon, California. The study was a test of an efficient method for documenting inter-year changes in the offshore distribution of the migration. The research site has been used most years since 1975 by the National Marine Mammal Laboratory to make counts for abundance estimates of gray whales. Matching sightings between the paired observation efforts showed very high agreement between observers (detection probability 0.97) for whale groups apparently of more than one animal within 1-3 n.mile of shore and a fairly high agreement (0.87) for animals travelling alone (5% of the sampled population) within 1 -3 n.miles of shore. Sighting probability thus remained high up to 3 n.miles, a distance which includes most (98.7%) of the whale migration. For the critical sighting range of 1-3 n.miles. the method aoolied here is considered a feasible, cost-effective technique for detecting inter-year differences in the probability thus remained high up to 3 n.miles, a distance which includes most (98.7%) of the which range of 1-3 n.miles, the method applied here is considered a feasible, cost-effective technique for range of 1-3 n.miles, the method applied here is considered a feasible, cost-effective technique for offshore tail of the distribution.

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