CHARACTERIZATION OF BEAKED WHALE (ZIPHIIDAE) AND SPERM WHALE (PHYSETER MACROCEPHALUS) SUMMER HABITAT IN SHELF-EDGE AND DEEPER WATERS OFF THE NORTHEAST U. S.

Authors

  • G. T. Waring,

    1. Northeast Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries Service, NOAA, 166 Water Street, Woods Hole, Massachusetts 02543, U. S. A. E-mail: gordon.waring@noaa.gov
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  • T. Hamazaki,

    1. Northeast Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries Service, NOAA, 166 Water Street, Woods Hole, Massachusetts 02543, U. S. A. E-mail: gordon.waring@noaa.gov
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    • 1

      Current address: Department of Fishery & Wildlife Science, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, New Mexico 88003, U. S. A.

  • Daniel Sheehan,

    1. Northeast Regional Office, National Marine Fisheries Service, NOAA One Blackburn Drive, Gloucester, Massachusetts 01930, U. S. A.
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    • 2

      Current address: MIT/Academic Computing Practice, Bid. N42, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, U. S. A.

  • Grayson Wood,

    1. Northeast Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries Service, NOAA, Narragansett, Rhode Island 02882 U. S. A.
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  • Sheekela Baker

    1. Graduate School of Oceanography, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, Rhode Island 02882, U. S. A.
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Abstract

Sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) and beaked whales (Mesoplodon spp. and Ziphius cavirostris) are deep-diving cetaceans that frequent shelf-edge and Gulf Stream waters off the northeast U. S. coast. Sighting data collected during seven summer (1990, 1991, 1993, and 1995–1998) shipboard surveys were analyzed using a geographic information system to determine habitat use based on bathymetric and oceanographic features. Although sighting rates were lower for beaked whales, both taxa occupied similar habitats. Beaked whales were concentrated at the colder shelf edge, whereas sperm whales were associated with warmer off-shelf water. Mean sighting rates for both taxa were higher in canyon features, but only beaked whale sighting rates were significantly different between canyon and non-canyon habitat (Wilcoxon signed rank test P= 0.007). Within the shared habitat, the two taxa were separated at fine-scale based on oceanographic features.

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