[MARMAM] New publication: Killer whale acoustic patterns in the sub-Antarctic region

Fannie Shabangu fannie.shabangu at yahoo.com
Sun Jan 14 13:04:24 PST 2024

Dear MARMAM Colleagues
On behalf on my co-authors, I am excited to announce the publication of our latest research article:

 Shabangu FW, Daniels R, Jordaan RK, de Bruyn PJN, van den Berg MA, Lamont T. 2024 Killer whale acoustic patterns respond to prey abundance and environmental variability around the Prince Edward Islands, Southern Ocean. R. Soc. Open Sci. 11: 230903. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.230903

 Killer whales are apex predators with temporally and spatially varying distributions throughout the world’s oceans. Their ecology and behaviour are poorly understood in most regions due to limited research, often because of logistical challenges. Here, we used a passive acoustic monitoring device to investigate the seasonal acoustic occurrence and diel vocalizing behaviour of killer whales around the remote sub-Antarctic Prince Edward Islands (PEIs), Southern Ocean. Killer whales showed diel vocalizing patterns that varied seasonally in relation to their prey abundance and social activities. Killer whale calls were intermittently detected year-round with a high number of hours containing calls in October to December, and a secondary peak in February to May, corresponding to seal prey abundance. Random forest modelling identified wind speed as the primary predictor of the occurrence of killer whale calls (with a negative correlation) while sea surface height, chlorophyll-a and sea surface temperature were moderately important. We provide the first acoustic evidence that killer whale occurrence around the PEIs might coincide with variability in environmental conditions and prey abundance. Our results provide the first indication of diel vocalizing pattern of killer whales in the Southern Ocean. This knowledge is important for understanding killer whale ecology and adaptation to the changing oceans.
This article is open access and downloadable from: https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.230903
All the best for 2024.

Kind regards,Fannie
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Fannie W. Shabangu, PhD (he/him)
Marine BiologistDepartment of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment
Cape Town, South Africa
Mobile: +27 74 220 0210
Tel: +27 21 402 3553E-mail addresses: fshabangu at dffe.gov.za; fannie.shabangu at yahoo.com

Research Fellow
Mammal Research InstituteWhale Unit
University of PretoriaHatfield, South Africa
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