[MARMAM] New publication: Detecting surface-feeding behavior by rorqual whales in accelerometer data

Ms Kylie Owen kylie.owen at uqconnect.edu.au
Thu Nov 12 12:36:34 PST 2015

We are pleased to announce a new publication describing a method to detect surface-feeding behavior by rorqual whales in accelerometer data.

Owen, K., Dunlop, R. A., Monty, J. P., Chung, D., Noad, M. J., Donnelly, D., Goldizen, A. W. and Mackenzie, T. (2015) Detecting surface-feeding behavior by rorqual whales in accelerometer data. Marine Mammal Science. doi: 10.1111/mms.12271


The movement of marine animals feeding at the sea surface is restricted by wave
drag and a reduction in propulsive efficiency. Many rorqual whale species lunge feed
at the surface, yet existing methodologies for detecting lunges in accelerometer data
have not been applied to surface-feeding behavior. Our study aimed to develop a
method to detect surface-feeding behavior in accelerometer data and in doing so,
determine whether wave drag influences the detection of surface-feeding behavior. A
new acceleration parameter is described that considers the forward acceleration of the
animal relative to its pitch. The new parameter, along with information on the
deceleration and pitch angle, was then used in an automatic lunge detecting algorithm
followed by a visual classification method that detected approximately 70% of
the lunges observed during focal follow sampling. The forward acceleration of lunges
decreased significantly with increasing proximity to the surface. This lower acceleration
at the surface may influence the ability to detect lunge feeding behavior close to
the surface. Future research should attempt to determine the cause of this relationship,
which may be the influence of changes in the forces acting on the whale or
behavioral flexibility by the whale.

The article can be accessed here:


Kind Regards

Kylie Owen, PhD

Alaska SeaLife Center

301 Railway Avenue

Seward, Alaska, USA, 99664

Email: kylie.owen at uqconnect.edu.au

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