[MARMAM] New paper on Cuvier's beaked whale diving behavior

Greg Schorr gschorr at marecotel.org
Fri Jun 26 22:15:45 PDT 2020

Dear colleagues,

We are writing to share a link to our new paper, recently published in
Marine Ecology Progress Series.

Barlow, J. Schorr, G.S., Falcone, E.A., Moretti, D. 2020. Variation in dive
behavior of Cuvier's beaked whales with seafloor depth, time-of-day, and
lunar illumination. Marine Ecology Progress Series 644: 199-214.

The paper can be downloaded from:


or you can email gschorr(at)marecotel.org, or any of the other authors
directly for a copy.

ABSTRACT:  Depth distributions were analyzed from a study of 19 Cuvier’s
beaked whales (Ziphius cavirostris) that were tagged with satellite
transmitting tags off southern California. Over 113,000 depth measurements
were made over the equivalent of ~200 sampling days. The mean foraging
depth was 1,182 m (standard deviation, s.d. = 305 m) and the mean of the
maximum depth of all foraging dives is 1,427 m (s.d. = 298 m). Mean
foraging depths increased with seafloor depths up to a maximum of ~1,300 m
at a seafloor depth of 1,900 m, but decreased slightly to a mean of ~1,200
m at seafloor depths of 2,000-4,000 m. Near-bottom habitat appears to be
important for foraging; whales spent ~30% of their foraging time within 200
m of the bottom at seafloor depths of 1,000-2,000 m. However, little
foraging time was spent near the bottom at seafloor depths greater than
2,000 m. The percentage of time spent at near-surface depths (< 50 m) was
more than twice as high at night (25%) as during the day (12%). Lunar light
also appears to affect diving, with 28% of dark nights and only 17% of
brightly moon-lit nights spent at these near-surface depths. The apparent
avoidance of surface waters during daytime and on brightly moon-lit nights
is consistent with avoidance of visual predators. A considerably greater
fraction of time was spent foraging at night (24.8%) than during the day
(15.7%), possibly due to energetic constraints imposed by predator
avoidance during the day

Best regards,


Greg Schorr
Research Scientist
Marine Ecology and Telemetry Research
2468 Camp McKenzie Trail NW, Seabeck WA 98380-4513
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