Exciting news! Following the SCANS III surveys conducted last year, the eagerly anticipated abundance and density estimates are now available!

SCANS III was the third large scale survey of for cetaceans in European Atlantic waters. SCANS I was conducted in 1994, SCANS II in 2005 and the most recent survey SCANS III was conducted in 2016. One of the main aims of SCANS III was to provide robust large-scale estimates of cetacean abundance. These data have just been released in a new report which can be viewed here. This report summarises the estimated abundance and density of 12 cetacean species from the survey data collected last year.

The estimated abundance of harbour porpoise in the North Sea ICES Assessment Unit using the SCANS III data is 345,373 and importantly, the report states that there is no statistical evidence of a change in porpoise abundance across the three SCANS surveys:

Trend lines fitted to time series of three or more abundance estimates. Harbour porpoise in the North Sea – estimated rate of annual change = 0.8% (95%CI: -6.8; 9.0%), p = 0.18, error bars show 95% Confidence Intervals. Taken from Hammond et al., 2017.

In a press release, Dr Meike Scheidat (project leader of the aerial scans from Wageningen Marine Research) said:

The survey has been a huge success. Results indicate that the shift seen in harbour porpoise distribution in the North Sea from the northwest in 1994 to the south in 2005 was maintained in 2016, with highest densities found in the southwestern North Sea, and north and east of Denmark.

Check out the full report for survey block specific abundance and density estimates, as well as data for other species including: bottlenose dolphins, Risso’s dolphins, white-beaked dolphins, white-sided dolphins, common dolphins, striped dolphins, pilot whales, all beaked whale species combined, sperm whales, minke whales and fin whales.

For more information on SCANS III check out the website here.

Main image taken from SCANS III website.