DURATION OF STEREOTYPED UNDERWATER VOCAL DISPLAYS BY MALE ATLANTIC WALRUSES IN RELATION TO AEROBIC DIVE LIMIT

Authors

  • S. N. Nowicki,

    1. Canadian Wildlife Service, 5320 122 Street, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6H 3S5 and Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6G 2E9
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  • Ian Stirling,

    1. Canadian Wildlife Service, 5320 122 Street, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6H 3S5 and Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6G 2E9
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  • Becky Sjare

    1. Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6G 2E9
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    • 1

      Science Branch, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, P. O. Box 5667, St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada A1C 5X1.


Abstract

During the breeding season from January to mid-April, adult male Atlantic walruses (Odobenus rosmarus rosmarus) dive repeatedly for an average duration of 4–6 min and give stereotyped underwater vocal displays. Between dives, they surface for 1–2 min, take 4–6 breaths, and give stereotyped vocalizations between breaths. Male walruses vocalize in the presence of groups of females and calves, young adult males, or by themselves as lone singers. This pattern is repeated throughout the breeding season and can be maintained for extended periods, sometimes exceeding 48 h. The prolonged underwater vocal displays of male walruses seem possible because the animals do not exceed the aerobic dive limit (ADL), estimated to be 9.8 min for a 1,100-kg animal, nor do they exceed the behavioral ADL of 7.9 min, determined from the histogram of dives for males singing alone. The number of breaths taken after dives and the postdive surface times remained fairly constant despite dive duration, suggesting that the walruses remained within their aerobic dive limits. The duration of most dives made by displaying males vocalizing alone during the breeding season, and dive duration of walruses feeding for protracted periods outside the breeding season, are both roughly half the estimated ADL.

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