[MARMAM] Beaked whales virtual photoID catalog and papers

Natacha Aguilar naguilarsoto at gmail.com
Sat Jul 23 22:30:46 PDT 2011

Dear all,

To improve re-sightings of beaked whales and support public involvement in
research we have created the open tool  www.cetabase.info

The database is open to anybody who want to use it for their own research or
to collaborate with others. All users can see all photos, but each user can
only modify the data corresponding to his/her account. You need to accept
the legal terms of use (i.e. to respect the property of the information of
others) before accessing the database. If you want to use the photos for
something else than enjoyment, you need to ask for permit to the user who
loaded them in the database.

You don't need to register to see the photos in the database, but if you
want access to the analysis tools of the database you need to create an
account and log in with it. Your data is completely safe and associated only
to this database, which is maintained by University of La Laguna

Other species in addition to beaked whales can be included. At the moment
there are photos and sightings of Blainville's and Cuvier's beaked whales in
the Canary Islands and these require a special format to include photos with
markings from all over the body. If you want to enter dolphins, or sperm
whales, the photo-page is set for the photoID needs of those species.

The designer of the database is happy to donate his time for small changes
if required, but if you want large re-formats to fit the database to your
data you'd need to arrange it more seriously.

The original language of the database is spanish, but it is translated to
english and instructions of use are available in the page in both languages
(although they still need some polishing, this is a work in progress)

Hope you may find this tool useful. Please do not hesitate in contacting if
you may require further information

Best regards


PD. There is a new paper on Blainville's beaked whale social communication

Aguilar Soto, N., Johnson., M., Tyack., P., Arranz, P., Revelli, E.,
Marrero, J., Fais, A., Madsen, P. No shallow talk: deep social communication
of Blainville´s beaked whales. Marine Mammal Science.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1748-7692.2011.00495.x


Communicating animals must balance fitness benefits against the costs of
signaling, such as increased predation risk. Cetaceans communicate mainly
with sound and near-surface vocalizations can place signalers at risk from
shallow-diving top-predators with acute hearing such as killer whales.
Beaked whales are deep-divers living in small cohesive groups with little
social defense from predation and little if anything is known about their
acoustic communication. Here eight Blainville’s beaked whales were studied
with suction-cup attached DTAGs to provide the first report on social
communication as a function of diving behavior for any of the 21 ziphiid
species. Tagged whales produced two novel signals with apparent
communicative functions: i) fast series of ultrasonic FM clicks (rasps) were
recorded from six individuals, and ii) harmonically rich short whistles with
a mean fundamental frequency of 12kHz were recorded from one whale at up to
900m depth, the deepest whistles recorded from a marine mammal. Blainville´s
were silent 80% of the time,  whenever shallower than 170m depth and during
the prolonged (19min) silent ascents from vocal dives. This behavior limits
the ability of shallow-diving predators to track Blainville´s acoustically,
providing a striking example of the evolutionary influence of the risk of
predation on animal communication.

You might be interested in a good compilation of DTAG papers on beaked
whales. This can be found in the following web page (also bilingual and with
some scientific divulgation articles in spanish)



Natacha Aguilar
Head Cetacean Research Line
Dept. Animal Biology
La Laguna University
Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain
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