[MARMAM] New publication: Dive Behavior and Activity Patterns of Fin Whales in a Migratory Habitat

Catarina T. Fonseca catarinatoscano4 at gmail.com
Mon Jul 18 07:37:26 PDT 2022

Dear MARMAM community,

We are pleased to share our recent publication in Frontiers in Marine
Science, section Marine Megafauna:

Fonseca CT, Pérez-Jorge S, Prieto R, Oliveira C, Tobeña M, Scheffer A and
Silva MA (2022) Dive Behavior and Activity Patterns of Fin Whales in a
Migratory Habitat. Front. Mar. Sci. 9:875731. doi: 10.3389/fmars.2022.875731

Abstract: Efficient use of the energy budget is of fundamental importance
for long-distance migrants, which must cope with seasonal energy demands
and environmental conditions. Time-activity budgets can provide information
on how animals balance energy use and acquisition over their annual cycle,
and on the costs and benefits of different migratory strategies. Baleen
whales, such as the fin whale, perform long migrations between feeding and
breeding grounds. Although there are now a handful of studies describing
the diving and foraging behavior of fin whales, most were carried out at
their high-latitude foraging grounds, and very little is known about their
behavior in wintering habitats or during migration. We analyzed time-depth
recorder data to describe the diving behavior and activity patterns of fin
whales in a migratory habitat. Using a hierarchical cluster analysis based
on a set of dive variables, we identified six dive types. Four of these
dive types (shallow exploratory, shallow active, deep exploratory and deep
active) were likely associated to foraging. The other two comprised long
non-active dives and dives of variable shape, which may represent resting,
traveling or even vocalizing behavior. Shallow exploratory dives were the
most frequent dive type (23%) and shallow active were the least frequent
(5%). The two deepest dive types, deep active and exploratory, were
predominantly carried out during the day, and night dives were
significantly shallower than daylight dives, suggesting that fin whales
tracked the vertical migration of prey. Whales spent 60% of their dive time
engaged in dives associated with feeding and/or prey searching, suggesting
they prioritized energy intake over energy conservation. Finally, we found
that whales spent more time at or close (<15 m depth) to the surface at
night (73%) than during the day (55%), indicating a higher vulnerability to
ship strikes during this period. Our study provides novel information on
the behavioral patterns and time-activity budgets of fin whales in a
migratory habitat. This information is essential for bioenergetic analyses
and to predict how fin whales respond to human activities and ongoing
environmental changes.

The full article is open access and available online:

Best regards,

Catarina T. Fonseca, MSc
IMAR - Institute of Marine Research & Okeanos I & D Centre
University of the Azores
Horta, Portugal
Azores Whale Lab: http://whales.scienceontheweb.net
Email: catarinatoscano4 at gmail.com
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