[MARMAM] Abstracts - Aquatic Mammals, volume 35, issue 3

Dagmar Fertl dagmar_fertl at hotmail.com
Sun Oct 18 14:24:12 PDT 2009

Dear Marmam and ECS-mailbase subscribers,
Apologies to those of you who will get duplicate emails due to cross-posting. The following are abstracts from the most recent issue of Aquatic Mammals, the scientific peer-reviewed journal of the European Association for Aquatic Mammals (EAAM).  Abstracts are presented as a courtesy to the EAAM and the journal editors – Drs. Jeanette Thomas (managing editor; aquaticmammals at gmail.com) and Kathleen Dudzinski (co-editor; kdudzinski at dolphincommunicationproject.org). The journal publishes papers dealing with all aspects of the care, conservation, medicine and science of aquatic mammals. The journal receives support of the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums and the International Marine Animal Trainers' Association (IMATA). For more information on the journal, please go to: http://www.aquaticmammalsjournal.org/. Contact information is provided for the corresponding author for each article. Please do not contact the listserve editors or me for pdfs or copies of the articles.
Thank you for your continued interest in the journal and these postings. It was great to see friends, as well as make new ones in Quebec.
With regards,
Dagmar Fertl
Ziphius EcoServices
dfertl at gmail.com

OLSEN, E.*, W. O. BUDGELL, E. HEAD, L. KLEIVANE, L. NØTTESTAD, R. PRIETO, M. A. SILVA, H. SKOV, G. A. VÍKINGSSON, G. WARING and N. ØIEN. 2009. First satellite-tracked long-distance movement of a sei whale (Balaenoptera borealis) in the North Atlantic. Aquatic Mammals 35(3): 313-318.
* Institute of Marine Research, P.O. Box 1870 Nordnes, N-5817 Bergen, Norway; E-mail: eriko at imr.no2Bedford
Long-distance migration for most species of baleen whales is poorly understood because of the practical difficulties and substantial expense involved in gathering relevant data. Presently, satellite tracking is the only method that delivers the necessary detail and quantitative data on movement patterns on far-ranging marine mammals. In this study, ARGOS satellite tags were deployed on North Atlantic sei whales (Balaenoptera borealis) at the Azores Islands. Data from one whale showed a cumulative 4,102-km movement from tagging at Faial Island in the Azores on 12 April 2005 via the Charlie Gibbs Fracture Zone (CGFZ) to the Labrador Sea where transmissions stopped on 7 June 2005. For a portion of the distance from CGFZ to the Labrador Sea, the whale moved in the prevailing direction of the surface current pattern. Erratic movement in five areas along the movement track indicates feeding  behaviour, particularly in the CGFZ. The results show the large-scale movement potential of North Atlantic sei whales from wintering grounds to highly productive potential feeding areas in the Labrador Sea.
CUNNINGHAM, L.* 2009. Using computer-assisted photo-identification and capture-recapture techniques to monitor the conservation status of harbour seals (Phoca vitulina). Aquatic Mammals 35(3): 319-329.
*S ea Mammal Research Unit, Gatty Marine Laboratory, University of St Andrews, Fife, KY16 8LB, United KingdomCurrent Address: The Scottish Government, Edinburgh, United Kingdom; E-mail: lc66smru at gmail.com
Conservation policies require the status of pro­tected species to be monitored. The choice of monitoring methods may be constrained in situa­tions in which there is concern about disturbance or in which sighting individuals is difficult. This study investigated the potential of using a com­puter-assisted photo-identification method to measure population size in adult harbour seals (Phoca vitulina). Pattern cells or combinations of pattern cells from photographs (i.e., ventral, flank, shoulder, and head) were used for computerized selection of potential matching pairs, and the pelage patterns of those pairs were then checked visually. There was monthly variation in capture-recapture population estimates, with the highest number of adult harbour seals in May (117, CV = 7.2). Around three times more individuals used the sampling area in northwest Scotland between April and October (268, CV = 0.04) than were estimated per month (mean = 86, CV = 0.07). Using computer-assisted photo-identification and capture-recapture methods may be the only practical way of obtaining a measurement of how many seals use a site. This approach has important implications for determining the effectiveness of designated conservation areas for protecting seals and will influence management decisions, includ­ing the size of management units.
 PIMPER, L. E.*, M. I. REMIS, R. N. P. GOODALL and C. S. BAKER. 2009. Teeth and bones as sources of DNA for genetic diversity and sex identification of Commerson’s dolphins (Cephalorhynchus commersonii) from Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. Aquatic Mammals 35(3): 330-333.
*Departamento de Ecología, Genética y Evolución, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Intendente Güiraldes 2160, Ciudad Universitaria, Capital Federal (1428), Argentina; E-mail: liditas at ege.fcen.uba.ar
 Museum specimens are often the only source of genetic material for many species of cetaceans. Most of the protocols that have been developed to extract DNA from teeth and bone samples involve mechanical or chemical disintegration of the material. An alternative method to the mechanical reduction process is presented here for 212 Commerson’s dolphin (Cephalorhynchus commersonii) samples collected in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, from 1974 to 2004. From the total samples, 82.5% (n = 175) allow for amplification to occur of a minimum length of 200 pb for the mtDNA control region, 66.5% (n = 141) of 400 bp, and 51% (n = 108) of 500 bp. A total of 11 haplotypes were defined from 10 polymorphic sites. From the initial number of samples, 64.6% could be sexed via molecular markers. This method is effective for processing large quantities of degraded samples over a short time period, analysing a representative number of mtDNA haplotypes, and allowing robust estimation of historical genetic diversity and trends over time.
AINLEY, D. G.*, G. BALLARD and S. OLMASTRONI. 2009. An apparent decrease in the prevalence of “Ross Sea Killer Whales” in the southern Ross Sea Aquatic Mammals 35(3): 334-346.
H T. Harvey & Associates, 983 University Avenue, Los Gatos, CA 95032, USA; E-mail: dainley at penguinscience.com
Killer whales (Orcinus orca), both ecotype-B and -C, are important to the Ross Sea, Antarctic ecosystem. The ecotype-C is referred to as “Ross Sea [RS] killer whale.” Herein, we review data on occurrence patterns and diet of RS killer whales and present new information on numbers observed in the southwestern Ross Sea, 2002-2003 to 2008-2009 austral summers. These “resident” whales appear to feed principally on fish, including the large Antarctic toothfish (Dissostichus mawsoni). On the basis of sea watches from Cape Crozier, Ross Island, sighting frequency and average group size appears to have decreased; prevalence as indicated by casual observations from helicopter pilots flying over the area on a daily basis has also decreased in nearby McMurdo Sound. Consistent with a decrease in the catch-per-unit-effort of scientific fishing for toothfish in McMurdo Sound, we suggest and review evidence that the change in RS killer whale numbers in the southern Ross Sea is related to an industrial fishery-driven, density-dependent northward contraction of the toothfish stock and not to changes in the physical (and, in turn, biological) environment. We surmise that in this closely coupled foodweb, composed of very abundant penguin, seal, and whale components, loss of the toothfish option for RS killer whales would force more direct competition with other predators for capture of the smaller-fish prey. Therefore, we propose, the RS killer whales have opted to move elsewhere, in a scenario consistent with that of the Pacific coast of Canada, where numbers of resident killer whales have decreased following the loss of large fish as a prey choice.
KOSKI, W. R.*, T. ALLEN, D. IRELAND, G. BUCK, P. R. SMITH, A. M. MACRANDER, M. A. HALICK, C. RUSHING, D. J. SLIWA and T. L. MCDONALD. 2009. Evaluation of an unmanned airborne system for monitoring marine mammals. Aquatic Mammals 35(3): 347-357.
*LGL Limited, environmental research associates, P.O. Box 280, 22 Fisher Street, King City, ON L7B 1A6, Canada; E-mail: bkoski at lgl.com
Tests of an unmanned airborne system (UAS) for surveys of marine mammals were conducted near Port Townsend, Washington. Sixteen surveys were conducted over a 10-d period to find 128 simulated whale targets (4 to 9 per survey). Various weather conditions were encountered, and search-widths and altitudes were varied to establish optimal search parameters for future surveys. Logistic regression models were applied to estimate how detection rates were influenced by target color, degree of target inflation, shutter speed, search-width, and Beaufort wind force. Beaufort wind force was the strongest predictor of detection rates with color and degree of target inflation also included in the model that best fit these data. Overall detection rates of simulated large whale profiles using UASs were similar to published estimates of detection rates during manned aerial surveys for marine mammals, except the search area was much smaller (narrow strip width) when using the UAS. The best detection rates were obtained when Beaufort wind force was lowest (~ 2). The UAS tested showed promise for replacing manned aerial surveys for monitoring distribution and abundance of large marine mammals; however, improvements are required before the UAS would be an efficient tool for detection of all species. Side-by-side comparisons are needed between the UAS and manned aircraft to evaluate any differences in detection rates from the two platforms.
O’HERN, J. E.* and D. C. BIGGS. 2009. Sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) habitat in the Gulf of Mexico: Satellite observed ocean color and altimetry applied to small-scale variability in distribution. Aquatic Mammals 35(3): 358-366.
* Department of Oceanography, Texas A&M University, 3146 TAMU, College Station, TX 77843-3146, USA; E-mail: jeo27 at neo.tamu.edu
During the summers of 2004 and 2005, researchers surveyed cetacean presence along the continental slope of the northern Gulf of Mexico. Towed, passive acoustic hydrophones were used to identify locations along the cruise tracks where sperm whales were encountered and not encountered. During both summers, 35 groups of sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) were encountered at a frequency of about one group every 120 nmi of survey effort. To assess the linkages between surface oceanography and the distribution of sperm whales, surface ocean color from NASA’s Moderate Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) and surface dynamic height from NASA’s Earth orbital altimeters were evaluated in conjunction with survey data. Most sperm whale groups were found within regions of enhanced sea surface chlorophyll (SSC), particularly 2 wks after the initial development of locally higher SSC anomalies. Results from this study indicate sperm whale distribution in the Gulf of Mexico is linked to surface oceanography at shorter time scales than previously documented.
BECHDEL, S. E.*, M. S. MAZZOIL, M. E. MURDOCH, E. M. HOWELLS, J. S. REIF, S. D. MCCULLOCH, A. M. SCHAEFER and G. D. BOSSART. 2009. Prevalence and impacts of motorized vessels on bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in the Indian River Lagoon, Florida. Aquatic Mammals 35(3): 367-377.
 *Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic University, Center for Coastal Research – Marine Mammal Research and Conservation, 5600 U.S. 1 North, Ft. Pierce, FL 34946, USA; E-mail: sbechdel at hboi.fau.edu
Vessel-based anthropogenic impacts on bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in the Indian River Lagoon (IRL), Florida, were investigated by quantifying visible physical injuries to dorsal fins from photo-identification data collected from 1996 to 2006. Forty-three dolphins, 6.0% of the distinctly marked population, had injuries related to vessel impact. Impact was determined from previously published vessel-related wound definitions and the elimination of other possible wound sources. Spatial distribution was determined by dividing the IRL into six segments based on hydrodynamics and geographic features. Dolphins were assigned to a segment(s) and corresponding county according to ranging patterns. Segment 4, consisting of St. Lucie and Martin Counties, had the highest prevalence (9.9/100 distinct dolphins) of boat-injured dolphins and had the highest number of registered boaters per km2 of habitat. These preliminary data suggest that vessel impacts on dolphins occur disproportionally in the IRL and should be considered a high-priority management issue for local governments. Behavioral data collected during photo-identification surveys support the possibility of a low tolerance and sensitization to vessel interactions. Recommendations to reduce direct and indirect impacts from vessels on dolphins are discussed.
VERMEULEN, E.* and A. CAMMARERI. 2009. Residency patterns, abundance, and social composition of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in Bahía San Antonio, Patagonia, Argentina. Aquatic Mammals 35(3): 378-385.
* Marybio Foundation, Conaniyeu 475, Las Grutas, Río Negro, Argentina; E-mail: els at marybio.org
Residency patterns, abundance, and social composition of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) were assessed from 2006 to 2008 in Bahía San Antonio (BSA), Patagonia, Argentina. A total of 714 survey hours resulted in 132 contact hours with 224 bottlenose dolphin groups. Results indicated that dolphins can be seen year-round on average every 4 h, with sighting periods lasting an average of 45 min. A total of 57 bottlenose dolphins were positively identified in the bay, of which 56% showed a degree of residency, including almost all mother and calf pairs. Using the closed time heterogeneity model (Mth), and accounting for the proportion of unidentifiable individuals, calculations resulted in a corrected abundance estimate of 83 individuals for the study area. Further analysis revealed that individual dolphins associated at random and that the entire community exhibits rapid disassociations and two levels of casual acquaintances. Data suggest that the shallow waters of BSA support a relatively resident community of bottlenose dolphins, living in a fission-fusion society in which companionships frequently change. The relative constant presence of calves in more than 50% of the dolphin groups and the observed presence of neonates might furthermore indicate that dolphins specifically use this area, among others, to give birth and nurse their young. In addition, a reported decline in bottlenose dolphin sightings in the larger area of the Argentinean coast might indicate that BSA is one of the last remaining refuges of the species in the country. Further research seems vital for their conservation.
MURACO, H., A. CHENG, N. RAVIDA, D. ARN, J. HUDSON and B. DURRANT. 2009. Conditioning for conservation: A new approach to detection of luteinizing hormone in a bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus). Aquatic Mammals 35(3): 386-393.

The Mirage Dolphin Habitat, The Mirage Hotel, Las Vegas, NV, USA; E-mail: holley at muraco.biz2San

Precise determination of the time of ovulation will greatly enhance the success rate of artifi­cial insemination and timed breedings of captive marine mammals. Because daily samples are nec­essary to effectively monitor the estrous cycle, behavioral conditioning of blood and urine col­lection has greatly facilitated the development of reproductive hormone profiles of the bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus). Measuring luteiniz­ing hormone (LH) in urine obviates the need for blood collection and increases the frequency with which samples can be obtained. This non-invasive method has the potential to elucidate the tempo­ral associations between the fall of circulating estrogen, the surge of LH, and the time of ovu­lation. Daily urine samples were collected from one female bottlenose dolphin during an ovula­tory estrous cycle. Urine was concentrated and normalized by osmolality before application to an immunochromatographic assay (ICG) designed to detect canine serum LH. Centrifuging urine sam­ples to remove insoluble components enhanced the definition and visibility of LH assay bands, concentrating urine increased the speed and inten­sity of test band development, and normalization of samples by osmolality ensured the applica­tion of a standard concentration of urine to each assay. In this single animal cycle follow-up trial, the urinary LH profile corresponded with serum LH, estrogen, and progesterone profiles, demon­strating the possible efficacy of this method for monitoring LH.
ANDERSEN, S. H. 2009. Historical perspectives: Investigations on the harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) in Denmark from 1962 to 1983. Aquatic Mammals 35(3): 394-398.
*no contact information was provided with article
Søren Hechmann Andersen talks about his involvement in the first European research laboratory to study the harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena), which was established in Strib, Denmark, in 1962 and was transferred in 1974 to the Southern University of Denmark, Odense. The laboratory was closed in 1983.
DUDOK VAN HEEL, W.H.* 2009. Historical perspectives: Aquatic Mammals: A journal and an association. Aquatic Mammals 35(3): 399-411.
*no email address provided; mailing address is: Vredehoflaan 560, 4382 CJ, Vlissingen, Netherlands
NACHTIGALL, P.E. 2009. Book review:  ENCYCLOPEDIA OF MARINE MAMMALS (2ND EDITION). Editors: William F. Perrin, Bernd Würsig, J. G. M. Thewissen. Academic Press, San Diego, California, USA. Aquatic Mammals 2009, 35(3), 412-413.
No email address provided; mailing address is: Director, Marine Mammal Research Program, Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, University of Hawaii, Kane’ohe, HI 96744, USA
WÜRSIG, B. 2009. Book review: MARINE MAMMALS OF THE WORLD: A COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE TO THEIR IDENTIFICATION. Thomas A. Jefferson, Marc A. Webber, and Robert L. Pitman. Illustrations by Brett Jarrett. Academic/Elsevier Press, Amsterdam. Aquatic Mammals 35(3):414-415.
Contact address: Regents Professor, Chair of the Marine Biology Graduate Program, Texas A&M University, 5007 Avenue U, Galveston, TX 77551, USA; wursigb at tamug.edu
ANONYMOUS. 2009.  Obituary for John Russell Twiss, Jr. (1938-2009).  Aquatic Mammals 35(3):417.
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