Marine protected area design and the spatial and temporal distribution of cetaceans in a submarine canyon

S K Hooker, H Whitehead, S Gowans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

170 Citations (Scopus)


The Gully, the largest submarine canyon off the coast of East Canada, is currently under consideration as a marine conservation area, primarily because of the increasing interset in oil and gas production on the Scotian Shelf. Cetaceans, as a guild of abundant, large organisms that are relatively sensitive to such threats, provide a reliable means to determine the boundaries for a conservation area in this region. We compared the abundance of cetaceans between the Gully and the other parts of the Scotian Shelf and Slope and found that abundance was higher in the Gully. We also assessed cetacean distribution and relative abundance within the Gully relative to search effort for several effort for several apatial and temporal parameters: depth, slope, sea surface temperature, and month. Distribution within the Gully was most strongly correlated with depth, but was also significantly correlated with sea surface temperature and month. Five of the 11 cetacean species commonly found in the Gully, and all those for which the Gully formed significant habitat on the Scotian Shelf, were concentrated in the deep (200-2000 m) mouth of the canyon. We suggest that a year-round marine protected area is necessary for the Gully. A core protection zone should be defined in the Gully based on depth and bounded by the 200-m isobath. A buffer zone around the core zone should be defined to provide protection from activities with further-reaching effects, such as noise, dredging, and chemical pollution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)592-602
Number of pages11
JournalConservation Biology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1999




Dive into the research topics of 'Marine protected area design and the spatial and temporal distribution of cetaceans in a submarine canyon'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this