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- Using accelerometers to determine the calling behavior of tagged baleen whales
- Low-frequency acoustic signals generated by baleen whales can propgate over vast distances, making the assignment of calls to specific individuals problematic. Here, we report the novel use of acoustic recording tags equipped with high-resolution accelerometers to detect vibrations from the surface of two tagged fin whales that directly match the timing of recorded acoustic signals. A tag deployed on a buoy in the vicinity of calling fin whales and a recording from a tag that had just fallen off a whale were able to detect calls acoustically but did not record corresponding accelerometer signals that were measured on calling individuals. Across the hundreds of calls measured on two tagged fin whales, the accelerometers response was generally anisotropic across all three axes, appeared to depend on tag placement and increased with the level of received sound. These data demonstrate that high-sample rate accelerometry can provide important insights into the acoustic behavior of baleen whales that communicate at low frequencies. This method helps identify vocalizing whales, which in turn enables the quantification of call rates, a fundamental component of models used to estimate baleen whale abundance and distribution from passive acoustic monitoring.
- Goldbogen, Stimpert, DeRuiter, Calambokidis, Friedlaender, Schorr, Moretti, Tyack, Southall
- Spatial assessment of fin whale hotspots and their association with krill within an important Antarctic feeding and fishing ground
- Fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus quoyi) habitat use and its relationship to environmental conditions are generally unknown in the Southern Ocean, presenting challenges for predicting their seasonal occurrence and potential effects of fishing pressure and climate change on this endangered species. Using biological data collected during 14 shipboard surveys off the northern Antarctic Peninsula and oceanographic data from satellite remote sensing, we mapped the distribution of fin whale hotspots, Antarctic krill abundance (biomass from acoustics, concentrations from nets) and ocean conditions during mid- and late-summer to investigate the environmental determinants of whale hotspots. Generalized additive models (GAM) were used to test the hypothesis that intra-seasonal changes in fin whale hotspot distribution relate to sea surface temperature (SST), krill abundance and eddy kinetic energy (EKE). More whale hotspots (sightings and individuals) are observed during late- than mid-summer surveys. During mid-summer, hotspots occurred near Elephant Island while in late-summer they were distributed throughout the slope region in proximity to the mean location of the southern Antarctic Circumpolar Current Front. The spatial mean of EKE did not differ between mid- and late-summer surveys, but the spatial mean of SST was significantly warmer during late-summer. The GAM for mid-summer indicates that fin whale hotspots were positively related to SST, EKE and acoustically determined krill biomass. The GAM for late-summer indicates the hotspots were negatively related to net-based krill abundance and positively related to acoustic krill biomass and EKE. This study is important because environmental determinants of fin whale hotspots may be used as reference points for implementing future conservation plans for their recovering populations. © 2014 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.
- Santora, Schroeder, Loeb