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Passive acoustic monitoring and UAV assessment of the impacts of shipping and development on High Arctic beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) and narwhals (Monodon monoceros) (149746)
Proposal Status: Conformity Determination Issued
Project Overview
Type of application: New
Proponent name: Cortney Wheeler
Company: Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Start Date: 2022-07-26
End Date: 2022-08-14
Operation Type: Seasonal
Project Description:
Narwhal (Monodon monoceros) and beluga whale (Delphinapterus leucas) populations in Canada are subjected to a growing number of anthropogenic stressors including annual harvesting, changes in climate, and increasing industrial activities. To determine risk and design effective management policies going forward we need to gain fundamental insights into how narwhal and beluga respond to emerging stressors. This study will involve setting up a small field camp (6 people camping in tents) on Somerset Island in Creswell Bay, and will use non-invasive techniques to monitor beluga whales and narwhals in their natural habitat. These non-invasive techniques will include use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), hydrophones, and underwater cameras to collect photographs, video, and audiograms to assess body condition, behaviour in response to vessels, and social interactions. Tissue samples will be collected to assess genetic relationships and hormone levels of the populations studied. The study site is one of the few locations where the summer ranges of both species overlap close to shore providing a rare opportunity to conduct simultaneous investigations of narwhal and beluga whales.
Persons: 6
Days: 20
Project Map
List of all project geometries:
ID Geometry Location Name
8649 point Field camp location
Planning Regions:
Affected Areas and Land Types
Inuit Owned Surface Lands
Settlement Area
North Baffin Planning Region
Project Land Use and Authorizations
Project Land Use
Scientific Research
Licensing Agencies
DFO: Fish for Scientific Purposes Permit
DFO: Animal Use Protocol Permit
Other Licensing Requirements
No data found.
Material Use
Type Quantity Size Use
Zodiac with 25HP outboard motor 2 12x2 Zodiacs may be used to collect tissue samples from whales, to deploy hydrophones and to collect drone imagery and video if flying from land is not possible due to whale behaviour.
Drones 2 289.5*289.5*196 mm (length×width×height) Drones will be flown a minimum of 20m over the surface of the water within line of sight.
Hydrophone 2 2x2 ft Hydrophone will be deployed in the water just off shore to record the soundscape and whale vocalizations.
Underwater camera 1 1x1 ft Underwater camera will be deployed near shore to record underwater behaviour of whales.
Fuel Use
Type Container(s) Capacity UOM Use
Gasoline 2 45 Gallons Gasoline will be used in zodiacs.
Hazardous Material and Chemical Use
Type Container(s) Capacity UOM Use
No records found.
Water Consumption
Daily Amount (m3) Retrieval Method Retrieval Location
0.05 With buckets from freshwater runoff Small runoff reservoirs.
Waste and Impacts
Environmental Impacts
This is a small field camp and all garbage/equipment will be brought in and out of the field camp with the crew. The only waste left will be human excrement and it is predicted to have minimal environmental impacts.
Waste Management
Waste Type Quantity Generated Treatement Method Disposal Method
Sewage (human waste) 0.02 m3 No treatment will be conducted. Waste will remain on land (urine)/be buried on land (feces).
Category: Application related document - Conformity Determination Letter
Recieved: 2022-04-11
Originator: Adrian Gerhartz
Public Registry ID: 19900
Document Size: 236.47 Kb


Environmental Protection:
s3.13.8: The applicant undertakes to prevent any new occurrences of pollution, garbage and contamination at the site of the development.

Removal of Fuel Drums:
s3.13.8: The applicant undertakes to remove all drums safely from the site and dispose of the drums in a safe manner.

New Site Restoration and Clean Up:
s3.13.1 and Appendix H, s1: The applicant undertakes to clean up the site and restore the site to its natural condition to the greatest extent possible.

Old Site Restoration and Clean Up:
s3.13.2: The applicant undertakes to clean up the site and restore the site to its original condition to the greatest extent possible, including any work required due to the applicant's action prior to this application.

Low-Level Air Flights:
Appendix H, s3: Will the applicant avoid all low-level flights?
i. If not, explain why such flights are or may be absolutely necessary.
A low level flight by PCSP will be required to drop off and pick up participants, but only on the first and last day of the field camp (there will not be regular flights).
ii. If such flights are or may be absolutely necessary, will they avoid disturbance to people and wildlife?
iii. If not, explain why it is not possible to avoid such disturbance.

Caribou Protection Measures:
s3.3.7 and Appendix D: Will the applicant comply with the Caribou Protection Measures outlined in section 2.4.6 and in Appendix D?

Caribou Water Crossings:
s3.3.7 and map: Will the applicant avoid, between may 15 and September 1, to construct any camp, cache any fuel or conduct any blasting within 10 km of any Designated Caribou Water Crossing identified

Polar Bear Denning Areas and Walrus Haul-outs:
s3.3.8: Will the applicant keep its activities away from any polar bear denning area or walrus haul-out?

Reporting of Archaeological Sites:
s3.11.3 and Appendix H, s2 and s8: Will the applicant immediately report the discovery of all suspected archaeological sites to the Department of Culture, Language, Elders and Youth (GN)?

Scientific Research:
s3.9.3: Does the project proposal involve scientific research?
If yes, will the applicant integrate all available and relevant local and traditional knowledge when conducting its research?

Consultation with Nunavut Research Institute:
s3.9.5: Has the applicant consulted with the Nunavut Research Institute about research topics that would benefit or interest local residents?
ii. If no, explain why.
A Nunavut Wildlife Research Permit has been submitted and there has been engagement on these research directions with the Resolute Bay Hunters and Trappers Association. I was unaware of the Nunavut Research Institute until now but would be happy to discuss this work with them.
Local Services and Local Employment:
s3.9.4: Will the applicant rely on local services and employment where possible?
i. Describe the services retained and the people to be employed.
The project is currently being reviewed by the Resolute Bay Hunters and Trappers Organization and we plan to hire and train two community members from Resolute Bay for this project. One community member has already been training on flying drones in order to capture imagery of beluga whales near Resolute Bay.

Communication on Scientific Research:
s3.2.8: The applicant will, at minimum, translate a summary of its work into Inuktitut and communicate with communities using language that is clear and non-technical. The results of all scientific re