[MARMAM] New Publication: Rapid weight loss in pygmy killer whales

Jens Currie JensCurrie at pacificwhale.org
Wed Apr 14 14:01:27 PDT 2021

Dear colleagues,

My co-authors and I are pleased to announce the publication of a new article published in Scientific Reports<https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-021-87514-2>:

2021: Currie, J.J., van Aswegen, M., Stack, S.H., West, K.L., Vivier, F., & Bejder, L. Rapid weight loss in free ranging pygmy killer whales (Feresa attenuata) and the implications for anthropogenic disturbance of odontocetes. Scientific Reports, 11: 8181.

Understanding the impacts of foraging disruptions to odontocete body condition is fundamental to quantifying biological effects of human disturbance and environmental changes on cetacean populations. Here, reductions in body volume of free-ranging pygmy killer whales (Feresa attenuata) were calculated using repeated measurements of the same individuals obtained through Unoccupied Aerial System (UAS)-photogrammetry during a prolonged disruption in foraging activity arising from a 21-day stranding event. Stranded individuals were used to verify UAS-derived volume and length estimates through 3D-imaging, water displacement, and post-mortem measurements. We show that (a) UAS estimates of length were within 1.5% of actual body length and UAS volume estimates were within 10–13% of actual volume, (b) foraging disruption resulted in a daily decrease of 2% of total body mass/day, and (c) pygmy killer whales can lose up to 27% of their total body weight within 17 days. These findings highlight the use of UAS as a promising new method to remotely monitor changes in body condition and animal health, which can be used to determine the potential effects of anthropogenic disturbance and environmental change on free-ranging odontocetes.

The full article is available to download for free online https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-021-87514-2


Jens Currie

Chief Scientist - Domestic Research Program
Pacific Whale Foundation
300 Ma'alaea Rd., Suite 211
Wailuku, HI 96793
Cell: 808-990-5544
Fax: 808-856-8363
Email: jenscurrie at pacificwhale.org
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