During the period of performance between March and October 2020, three types of aerial surveys were conducted within the study area. The study area is defined by a polygon surrounding the general and condensed surveys. During campaign 6A, the eastern side of the study area was expanded by 12 nautical miles to accommodate sightings of right whale aggregations on the eastern edge of the study area.
- General surveys were standardized line-transect surveys that were conducted on a monthly basis and covered the waters of the study area (9,002 km2 ), including the MA and RIMA WEAs. These surveys focused on all marine megafauna visible from the plane (excluding birds) and were comprised of ten north-south tracklines evenly spaced at approximately six nautical miles (nm). Eight survey options are available: each option shifts all 12 tracklines 0.75 nm east or west but maintains the six nm spacing between tracklines. One of these options was selected at random before each survey.
- Condensed surveys were standardized line-transect surveys conducted in two smaller areas off Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. These surveys focused on areas identified as having high densities of right whales and were compromised of 10-12 tracklines (western side: 10 tracklines, total length: 218 nm; eastern side: 12 tracklines, total length: 221.5 nm) evenly spaced at three nm. Four survey options are available: each option shifts all 10-12 tracklines 0.75 nm east or west but maintains the three nm spacing between tracklines. One of these options was selected at random before each survey.
- Directed surveys were flown in areas of right whale aggregations, identified by NEFSC or found during general or condensed surveys. These surveys followed line-transect protocols, but the area, number of lines, and length of flight varied based on the location of the right whale aggregations.