The effect of acoustic harassment devices on harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) in the Bay of Fundy, Canada
Many salmon aquaculture sites in the Bay of Fundy employ acoustic harassment devices (AHDs) to deter seals from approaching fish pens. These devices may also exclude harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) from important habitat. To determine the effects of AHDs on harbour porpoises an AHD was deployed experimentally in the Bay of Fundy, Canada. Relative porpoise abundance (visual scans) and porpoise movements (tracked by theodolite) were recorded for separate, daily, 2-h periods in the vicinity of either an active (n = 9) or inactive (n = 7) AHD. Fewer porpoises were sighted during active periods (0.22±0.44, mean±SD) than inactive periods (2.91±1.29; P<0.05). The mean closest observed approach of porpoises to the AHD during active periods (991±302 m) was significantly greater than during inactive periods (364±261 m; P < 0.01). Porpoise density was therefore reduced in the vicinity of active an AHD. These results should be considered before AHDs are deployed in porpoise habitat. © 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
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