[MARMAM] New paper on minke whale surfacing patterns

Fredrik denupplyste at hotmail.com
Thu May 14 18:39:33 PDT 2015

MARMAM colleagues,


co-authors and I are happy to announce the publication of the following paper in


F, Lynas NM, Lusseau D, Tscherter U (2015) Structure and Dynamics of Minke Whale
Surfacing Patterns in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Canada. PLoS ONE 10(5):
e0126396. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0126396



behavioral patterns can help us understand physiological and ecological
constraints on animals and its influence on fitness. The surfacing patterns of
aquatic air-breathing mammals constitute a behavioral pattern that has evolved
as a trade-off between the need to replenish oxygen stores at the surface and
the need to conduct other activities underwater. This study aims to better
understand the surfacing pattern of a marine top predator, the minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata), by
investigating how their dive duration and surfacing pattern changes across
their activity range. Activities were classified into resting, traveling,
surface feeding and foraging at depth. For each activity, we classified dives
into short and long dives and then estimated the temporal dependence between
dive types. We found that minke whales modified their surfacing pattern in an
activity-specific manner, both by changing the expression of their dives (i.e.
density distribution) and the temporal dependence (transition probability)
between dive types. As the depth of the prey layer increased between
activities, the surfacing pattern of foraging whales became increasingly
structured, going from a pattern dominated by long dives, when feeding at the
surface, to a pattern where isolated long dives were followed by an increasing
number of breaths (i.e. short dives), when the whale was foraging at depth. A
similar shift in surfacing pattern occurred when prey handling time (inferred
from surface corralling maneuvers) increased for surface feeding whales. The
surfacing pattern also differed between feeding and non-feeding whales. Resting
whales did not structure their surfacing pattern, while traveling whales did,
possibly as a way to minimize cost of transport. Our results also suggest that
minke whales might balance their oxygen level over multiple, rather than
single, dive cycles.


A copy of the
paper can be downloaded from:




If you
are unable to download the article, please contact me by email and I will be
happy to send you a copy: f.christiansen at live.se.


The paper
is dedicated to the late Ned M. Lynas, founder of ORES.


Best regards,


Fredrik Christiansen


Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Cetacean Research Unit, School of Veterinary and Life Sciences

Murdoch University, Murdoch, WA 6150, Australia

+61 417 502 098, f.christiansen at murdoch.edu.au



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