Supervisor: Dominique Berteaux
The St. Lawrence Estuary population of belugas (Delphinapterus leucas) has been assigned the status of endangered by the COSEWIC, and is registered as such in the Species at Risk Act. To monitor the population size, aerial surveys are conducted. These have important availability bias, since belugas aren’t always visible from the surface. Therefore, correction factors are necessary to account for the missing belugas. At this moment, the same correction is applied uniformly throughout the estuary, which isn’t representative of the heterogeneity of diving patterns. Thus the objective of this project is to develop more precise correction factors that will take into account the place where belugas are sighted (high residency area or transit) and depth, with the goal of improving the accuracy surrounding the size of the beluga population.