Toothed Whales (Odontocetes)

a dolphin leaps out of the water
Common dolphin leaps. Although seen alone here, they are often found in large pods. Photo: Elliott Hazen

Toothed whales are important members of the sanctuary ecosystem, but they have not yet received the attention of large numbers of cetacean researchers. New studies find they are more prevalent than previously thought. Dolphins, porpoises, and pilot whales are the predominant local species, although the rise in gray seal numbers may bring orcas back to the area. There have been several orca sightings in nearby waters over the last few years.

Distribution of Dolphins in Time and Space using Passive Acoustics from Ocean Gliders

Often seen during summer whale watches, Atlantic white-sided dolphins and common dolphins also show a consistent and frequent presence near Stellwagen Bank during late fall and winter as documented by the recordings of whistles by ocean gliders, a type of autonomous underwater vehicle. These data provide a first step towards understanding how odontocetes influence the Massachusetts Bay/Gulf of Maine ecosystem and how they may be impacted by human activities.