[MARMAM] New article on foraging behaviour of sperm whales in a submarine canyon

Marta Guerra marta.guerra at otago.ac.nz
Thu Oct 5 16:54:41 PDT 2017

Dear all

We are happy to announce our recent publication:

Diverse foraging strategies by a marine top predator: sperm whales exploit pelagic and demersal habitats in the Kaikoura submarine canyon. Marta Guerra, Leigh Hickmott, Julie van der Hoop, Will Rayment, Eva Leunissen, Elizabeth Slooten, Michael Moore. (2017). Deep-Sea Research Part I, 128: 98-108.


The submarine canyon off Kaikoura (New Zealand) is an extremely productive deep-sea habitat, and an important foraging ground for male sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus). We used high-resolution archival tags to study the diving behaviour of sperm whales, and used the echoes from their echolocation sounds to estimate their distance from the seafloor. Diving depths and distance above the seafloor were obtained for 28 dives from six individuals. Whales foraged at depths between 284 and 1433 m, targeting mesopelagic and demersal prey layers. The majority of foraging buzzes occurred within one of three vertical strata: within 50 m of the seafloor, mid-water at depths of 700-900 m, and mid-water at depths of 400-600 m. Sperm whales sampled during this study performed more demersal foraging than that reported in any previous studies - including at Kaikoura in further inshore waters. This suggests that the extreme benthic productivity of the Kaikoura Canyon is reflected in the trophic preferences of these massive top predators. We found some evidence for circadian patterns in the foraging behaviour of sperm whales, which might be related to vertical movements of their prey following the deep scattering layer. We explored the ecological implications of the whales' foraging preferences on their habitat use, highlighting the need for further research on how submarine canyons facilitate top predator hotspots.

A pdf can be obtained through this link: https://authors.elsevier.com/a/1Vomf3RueHM4lY?

Or email marta.guerra at otago.ac.nz for a paper request.

Best wishes,


Marta Guerra
PhD candidate
Department of Marine Science
University of Otago, Dunedin
Aotearoa - New Zealand
ph: +64 226784245
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