The population density of Cuvier's beaked whales is estimated acoustically with drifting near-surface hydrophone recorders in the Catalina Basin. Three empirical approaches (trial-based, distance-sampling, and spatially explicit capture-recapture) are used to estimate the probability of detecting the echolocation pulses as a function of range. These detection functions are used with two point-transect methods (snapshot and dive-cue) to estimate density. Measurement errors result in a small range of density estimates (3.9–5.4 whales per 1000 km2). Use of multiple approaches and methods allows comparison of the required information and assumptions of each. The distance-sampling approach with snapshot-based density estimates has the most stringent assumptions but would be the easiest to implement for large scale surveys of beaked whale density. Alternative approaches to estimating detection functions help validate this approach. The dive cue method of density estimation has promise, but additional work is needed to understand the potential bias caused by animal movement during a dive. Empirical methods are a viable alternative to the theoretical acoustic modeling approaches that have been used previously to estimate beaked whale density.
- Acoustics and ultrasonics
- Arts and humanities (miscellaneous)