Kenneth S. Norris recognized the potential of telemetry and tags to provide vastly improved understanding of the way marine mammals make a living. Many hours of discussion with Ken were spent working through details of new technologies that might allow better views of behavior underwater. He was always searching for improved ways to assess the activities of marine mammals-this concern was evident even in his early writing (e. g., Norris, Evans and Ray 1974). Ken was pleased with the developing tag designs and was insistent that sperm whales be the subject of intense study, so that our ideas will no longer “rest upon shaky ground,” he said. The analyses here of sperm whale surfacing activities are dedicated to Ken.
SPERM WHALE SURFACE ACTIVITY FROM TRACKING BY RADIO AND SATELLITE TAGS1
Article first published online: 26 AUG 2006
Marine Mammal Science
Volume 15, Issue 4, pages 1158–1180, October 1999
How to Cite
Watkins, W. A., Daher, M. A., Dimarzio, N. A., Samuels, A., Wartzok, D., Fristrup, K. M., Gannon, D. P., Howey, P. W., Maiefski, R. R. and Spradlin, T. R. (1999), SPERM WHALE SURFACE ACTIVITY FROM TRACKING BY RADIO AND SATELLITE TAGS. Marine Mammal Science, 15: 1158–1180. doi: 10.1111/j.1748-7692.1999.tb00883.x
- Issue published online: 26 AUG 2006
- Article first published online: 26 AUG 2006
- Received: 22 August 1997 Accepted: 26 February 1999
- sperm whale;
- Physeter catodon;
- surface activity;
- radio track;
- satellite track;
Three 12-m sperm whales (Physeter catodon) were tagged and tracked west of Dominica in the southeast Caribbean to follow the surfacing patterns and movements of these presumed subadult males. Whale N was tagged in April 1993 with a 30-MHz radio tag and tracked for two days. Whale H was tagged in April 1995 with a 30-MHz radio tag and tracked for 4.6 d. Whale A was tagged in April 1995 with a satellite-monitored tag tracked by ARGOS for 21.5 d, the first four of which were concurrent with the tracking of Whale H, an associate. The tagged whales remained west of Dominica for at least 2, 5, and 13 d, respectively. Whales N and A then moved southward to waters off Martinique. There were no apparent effects on the whales by tagging or the presence of the tags. The whales averaged speeds of 2.6-3.5 km/h. Surfacings, indicated by tag signals, were of two types: short surfacings apparently primarily for respiration, averaging 7-10.5 min between repeated longer dives, occurring day and night; and extended surfacings seemingly for rest and social interactions with conspecifics, occurring mostly in daylight. Whales were near the surface for 20.4%–22.6% of the total time (26.6%–27.1% during the day and 14.9%–17.1% at night). Delayed blowing was observed as Whale N surfaced for 8.3 min between 47- and 45-min dives but delayed the first of its 31 blows for 1.5 min after surfacing.