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Remote Sens. 2011, 3(3), 621-637; doi:10.3390/rs3030621
Article

Airborne Remote Sensing of a Biological Hot Spot in the Southeastern Bering Sea

1,* , 2
, 3
, 3
, Jr. 3
, 4
, 5
 and 5
1 NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory, 325 Broadway, Boulder, CO 80305, USA 2 Flying Fish Ltd., P.O. Box 169, Husum, WA 98623, USA 3 School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington, P.O. Box 355020, Seattle, WA 98195, USA 4 School of Fisheries and Ocean Science, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Juneau, AK 99801, USA 5 NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center, 17109 Point Lena Loop Road, Juneau, AK 99801, USA
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 27 January 2011 / Revised: 7 March 2011 / Accepted: 14 March 2011 / Published: 21 March 2011
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing in Coastal Ecosystem)
Download PDF [95 KB, 19 June 2014; original version 19 June 2014]

Abstract

Intense, ephemeral foraging events within localized hot spots represent important trophic transfers to top predators in marine ecosystems, though the spatial extent and temporal overlap of predators and prey are difficult to observe using traditional methods. The southeastern Bering Sea has high marine productivity along the shelf break, especially near marine canyons. At a hot spot located near Bering Canyon, we observed three foraging events over a 12 day period in June 2005. These were located by aerial surveys, quantified by airborne lidar and visual counts, and characterized by ship-based acoustics and net catches. Because of the high density of seabirds, the events could be seen in images from space-based synthetic aperture radar. The events developed at the shelf slope, adjacent to passes between the Aleutian Islands, persisted for 1 to 8 days, then abruptly disappeared. Build-up and break down of the events occurred on 24 hr time scales, and diameters ranged from 10 to 20 km. These events comprised large concentrations of euphausiids, copepods, herring, other small pelagic fishes, humpback whales, Dall’s porpoise, short-tailed shearwaters, northern fulmars, and other pelagic seabirds. The lidar and acoustic remote sensing data demonstrated that prey densities inside the events were several times higher than those outside, indicating the importance of including events in forage fish surveys. This implies a need for either very intensive traditional surveys covering large expanses or for adaptive surveys guided by remote sensing. To our knowledge, this is the first time that an Alaskan hot spot was monitored with the combination of airborne and satellite remote sensing.
Keywords: ecological hot spots; aerial surveys; lidar; remote sensing; fisheries acoustics; marine food chains; seabirds; marine mammals; forage fish; Bering Sea; SAR ecological hot spots; aerial surveys; lidar; remote sensing; fisheries acoustics; marine food chains; seabirds; marine mammals; forage fish; Bering Sea; SAR
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Churnside, J.H.; Brown, E.D.; Parker-Stetter, S.; Horne, J.K.; Hunt, G.L., Jr.; Hillgruber, N.; Sigler, M.F.; Vollenweider, J.J. Airborne Remote Sensing of a Biological Hot Spot in the Southeastern Bering Sea. Remote Sens. 2011, 3, 621-637.

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