Oceanviewer Banner

WHaLE: Whales, Habitat and Listening Experiment

  • Headshot

    Dr. Chris Taggart Dalhousie University

Finding and defining whale habitat and developing, testing and implementing a Canadian Whale Alert system.

This project addresses whale-vessel risk with partners by generating, exchanging and exploiting new knowledge derived from vessel, airborne and passive acoustic whale monitoring (PAM) along with oceanographic, and vessel automatic information system data obtained from fixed and mobile platforms in Pacific and Atlantic Canada. This project has led to two new discoveries; previously unknown right whale habitat in the Gulf of St Lawrence and the presence of right whales and other endangered whales on the Scotian Shelf well into December. Discoveries are anticipated from the first west coast glider deployment underway in early 2016. Findings include characterization and the prediction, through models, of the spatiotemporal distributions of at-risk whales, their habitats, and vessel-threats.

With project participation, MEOPAR receptor groups use the data, often in real time, to plan vessel-risk mitigation options. With the Shipping Federation of Canada, the commercial fleet’s receptivity to real-time whale alerts was determined, and their preferred options for minimizing vessel strikes. The researchers work closely with other MEOPAR projects (NEMES and 3MTSim); together having an international impact on whale conservation.


  • Akoostix
  • Bell Aliant
  • BC Ministry of Environment
  • Canadian Whale Institute
  • Canadian Wildlife Federation
  • Dalhousie University
  • EarthNC
  • Environment Canada
  • exactEarth
  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada
  • Irving Oil
  • JASCO Applied Sciences
  • National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
  • New England Aquarium 
  • Ocean Tracking Network
  • Raincoast Conservation Foundation
  • Shipping Federation of Canada
  • University of Victoria
  • Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
  • World Wildlife Fund


  • Chris Taggart - Principal Investigator Dalhousie University
  • Dave Duffus - Co-PI University of Victoria
  • Tetjana Ross - Co-PI Dalhousie University; Fisheries and Oceans Canada
  • Mark Baumgatner Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
  • Moira Brown New England Aquarium; Canadian Whale Institute
  • Hilary Moors-Murphy Fisheries and Oceans Canada


  • Krista Bouwman Dalhousie University
  • Rianna Burnham University of Victoria
  • Kim Davies Dalhousie University; University of Victoria
  • Delphine Durette Morin Dalhousie University
  • Elisabeth Edmondson Dalhousie University; University of Victoria
  • Caroline Fox Dalhousie University; University of Victoria
  • Julie Hovey Dalhousie University
  • Tara Howatt University of British Columbia
  • Hansen Johnson Dalhousie University; Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
  • Jennie Korus Dalhousie University
  • Kendra Moore Dalhousie University; University of Victoria
  • Danielle Moore Dalhousie University
  • Lynn Rannankari University of Victoria
  • Gennavieve Ruckdeschel Dalhousie University


  • Ross, T., Craig, S, Comeau, A., Davis, R., Dever, M. and Beck, M.,. 2016, "Blooms and subsurface phytoplankton layers on the Scotian Shelf: Insights from profiling gliders", Journal of Marine Systems,
  • Fox,Caroline,O’Hara, P., Bertazzon, S., Morgan, K., Underwood, F.E., Paquet, P.C. . 2016, A preliminary spatial assessment of risk: marine birds and chronic oil pollution on Canada's Pacific coast, Science of the Total Environment, 573: 799-809.,
  • Brillant, S., Wimmer, T., Rangley, R., Taggart, C.T.. 2017, A timely opportunity to protect North Atlantic right whales in Canada Journal, Marine Policy, 2016_650_R1.
  • Fox,Caroline,. 2016, At sea with the marine birds of the raincoast, , pp. 1-272.,
  • Moore,Danielle,. 2017, Can Emerald Basin, Scotian Shelf, be considered right whale (Eubalaena glacialis) feeding habitat? , Hon. BSc Thesis,
  • Davies ,Kim,Taggart,Chris,Smedbol, R.K.. 2015, Interannual variation in diapausing copepods and associated water masses in a continental shelf basin, and implications for copepod buoyancy, Journal of Marine Systems, 151: 35-46,
  • Brown,Moira,Reimer,Julie,Taggart,Chris,Caroline Gravel. 2016, Mitigating vessel strikes: The problem of the peripatetic whales and the peripatetic fleet, Marine Policy, Vol 68:91-99,10.1016/j.marpol.2016.02.017.
  • Brown,Moira,Taggart,Chris,. 2015, Mitigation of Vessel Strikes of North Atlantic Right Whales in Canadian Waters: Development, implementation, monitoring and stewardship, Conservation Biology,
  • Davies ,Kim,Taggart,Chris,Vanderlaan, A.S.M., Smedbol, R.K.. 2015, Oceanographic connectivity between right whale critical habitats in Canada and its influence on whale abundance indices during 1987 - 2009, Journal of Marine Systems, 150: 80-90,
  • Fox,Caroline,Huettmann, F., Harvey, G.K.A., Morgan, K.H., Robinson, J.,Williams, R., Paquet, P.C.. 0, Predictions from machine learning ensembles: marine bird density and distribution on Canada's Pacific coast, Marine Ecology Progress Series, 566: 199-216.,
  • Taggart,Chris,Brillant, SW, Vanderlaan ASM, Rangeley, RW. 2014, Quantitative Estimates of the Movement and Distribution of North Atlantic Right Whales along the Northeast Coast of North America, Endangered Species Research,
  • Cole TVN, Duley P, Foster M, Henry A, Durette-Morin D.. 2016, Right Whale aerial surveys of the Scotian Shelf and Gulf of St. Lawrence., US Dept Commer, 16-02; 9 p.,
  • Canessa,Rosaline,Dupras,Jérôme,Taggart,Chris,. 2016, Ships and Whales: Using AIS and acoustics to evalute exposure to risk., MEOPAR Partnership Workshop Program Final Report.,
  • Durette Morin ,Delphine,. 2016, Temporal variation in right whale (Eubalaena glacialis) population indices and vocalizations measured concurrently in Roseway Basin, ,
  • Canessa,Rosaline,McWhinnie,Lauren,O'Hara,Patrick,Serra-Sogas,Norma,Leh Smallshaw. 2017, The Grand Challenge in Researching Marine Noise Pollution from Vessels: A Horizon Scan for 2017, Frontiers in Marine Science, 4 : 31,10.3389/fmars.2017.00031.
  • Burnham, RE, Palm, R. Duffus, D.A. Mouy, X. Riera, A. . 2016, The combined use of visual and acoustic data collection techniques for winter killer whale (Orcinus orca) observations., Global Ecology and Conservation, 8:24-30,
  • Baumgatner,Mark,Davis, R., Comeau, A., Cunningham, A., Davies, K.T.A, Furlong, A., Johnson, H., L’Orsa, S., Ross, T., Taggart, C. & Whoriskey, F. submitted. . 2017, Tracking whales on the Scotian Shelf using passive acoustic monitoring on ocean gliders., IEEE Oceans ’16 Conference,
  • Davies ,Kim,Taggart,Chris,Smedbol, RK. 2014, Water Mass Structure Defines the Diapausing Copepod Distribution in a Right Whale Habitat on the Scotian Shelf, Marine Ecology Progress Series, 497, 69-85,

Ocean-going vessels pose a threat to all large whales worldwide. Maritime commerce needs information about whale locations and vessel-whale risk to mitigate this threat.

We plan to develop, test and implement in Canada the Whale Alert system, whereby areas of concentrated and classified whale vocalizations are made available to mobile device users and can also be transmitted to vessels via an AIS-message.