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Keywords:

  • sperm whale;
  • Physeter catodon;
  • P. macrcephalus;
  • diving;
  • dive profiles;
  • radio tracking;
  • radio tag;
  • telemetry

Abstract

Dives of a 12-m sperm whale (Physeter catodon Linnaeus, 1758) were tracked in the southeast Caribbean by long range, 30 MHz radio tag with dive-profile telemetry over 4.6 d, 26 April-1 May 1995. Over the 295-km track, average speed was 0.7 m/sec (2.6 km/h). Of 158 dives (defined as submergences longer than 3 min), 65 were shallow (<200 m). The 93 deep dives averaged 990 m (range 420–1,330 m) in depth, and 44.4 min in duration (range 18.2–65.3 min). Water depth was at least 200 m deeper than the whale dive depth. The whale was engaged in activities at or near the surface, shallow dives, and deep dives during 22.6%, 23.4%, and 54% of the time, respectively. Depth and duration of dives were correlated, but there was little relationship between the length or depth of dives with the duration of surfacings either before or after dives. Deep dives occurred day and night. In 44.4% of the deep dives, the vertical movement of descents and ascents was interrupted at intermediate depths, lengthening these dives by an average of 10.8 min. During dives without stops at intermediate depths, descents averaged 11 min at 1.52 m/sec, and ascents averaged 11.8 min at 1.4 m/sec.