DIEL VARIATION IN ECHOLOCATION BEHAVIOR OF WILD HARBOR PORPOISES

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Abstract

The echolocation rate and behavior of wild harbor porpoises were studied using a harbor porpoise click detector (POD) deployed close to the bottom at 40 m depth in Scottish waters, UK, April—June 2001. Echolocation variables were compared among four diel phases; morning, day, evening, and night. The echolocation encounter rate, the minimum interclick interval per train, and the proportion of echolocation click trains with a minimum interclick interval below 10 msec were all significantly higher at night than during the day. The variation in echolocation rate implies that porpoises increased their echolocation rate and/or visited the depth of the POD more often at night than during the day. Further, the changes in minimum interclick interval per train suggest that they used their echolocation for foraging or investigating objects at a close range to a higher extent, and acoustically explored the environment at greater distances at night than during the day.

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