[MARMAM] New publication available: The scale of the whale: using video-tag data to evaluate sea-surface ice concentration from the perspective of individual Antarctic minke whales

jake linsky jmjlinsky at gmail.com
Mon Oct 12 21:19:25 PDT 2020


Dear Marmamers, I'm pleased to share a recent publication from our research
group.

Linsky, J.M.J., Wilson, N., Cade, D.E., Goldbogen, J.A, Johnston D.W., and
Friedlaender, A.S. The scale of the whale: using video-tag data to evaluate
sea-surface ice concentration from the perspective of individual Antarctic
minke whales. *Anim Biotelemetry* 8, 31 (2020).
https://doi.org/10.1186/s40317-020-00218-8

Abstract:
Background

Advances in biologging technology allow researchers access to previously
unobservable behavioral states and movement patterns of marine animals. To
relate behaviors with environmental variables, features must be evaluated
at scales relevant to the animal or behavior. Remotely sensed environmental
data, collected via satellites, often suffers from the effects of cloud
cover and lacks the spatial or temporal resolution to adequately link with
individual animal behaviors or behavioral bouts. This study establishes a
new method for remotely and continuously quantifying surface ice
concentration (SIC) at a scale relevant to individual whales using
on-animal tag video data.
Results

Motion-sensing and video-recording suction cup tags were deployed on 7
Antarctic minke whales (*Balaenoptera bonaerensis*) around the Antarctic
Peninsula in February and March of 2018. To compare the scale of camera-tag
observations with satellite imagery, the area of view was simulated using
camera-tag parameters. For expected conditions, we found the visible area
maximum to be ~ 100m2 which indicates that observations occur at an
equivalent or finer scale than a single pixel of high-resolution visible
spectrum satellite imagery. SIC was classified into one of six bins (0%,
1–20%, 21–40%, 41–60%, 61–80%, 81–100%) by two independent observers for
the initial and final surfacing between dives. In the event of a
disagreement, a third independent observer was introduced, and the median
of the three observer’s values was used. Initial results (*n* = 6) show
that Antarctic minke whales in the coastal bays of the Antarctic Peninsula
spend 52% of their time in open water, and only 15% of their time in water
with SIC greater than 20%. Over time, we find significant variation in
observed SIC, indicating that Antarctic minke occupy an extremely dynamic
environment. Sentinel-2 satellite-based approaches of sea ice assessment
were not possible because of persistent cloud cover during the study period.
Conclusion

Tag-video offers a means to evaluate ice concentration at spatial and
temporal scales relevant to the individual. Combined with information on
underwater behavior, our ability to quantify SIC continuously at the scale
of the animal will improve upon current remote sensing methods to
understand the link between animal behavior and these dynamic environmental
variables.

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