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Keywords:

  • acoustic tag;
  • TDR ;
  • biosonar;
  • echolocation;
  • diving;
  • foraging;
  • harbor porpoise;
  • Phocoena phocoena ;
  • Danish waters;
  • Kattegat;
  • Great Belt;
  • Argos

Abstract

This study presents bioacoustic recordings in combination with movements and diving behavior of three free-ranging harbor porpoises (a female and two males) in Danish waters. Each porpoise was equipped with an acoustic data logger (A-tag), a time-depth-recorder, a VHF radio transmitter, and a satellite transmitter. The units were programmed to release after 24 or 72 h. Possible foraging occurred mostly near the surface or at the bottom of a dive. The porpoises showed individual diversity in biosonar activity (<100 to >50,000 clicks per hour) and in dive frequency (6–179 dives per hour). We confirm that wild harbor porpoises use more intense clicks than captive animals. A positive tendency between number of dives and clicks per hour was found for a subadult male, which stayed near shore. It showed a distinct day-night cycle with low echolocation rates during the day, but five times higher rates and higher dive activity at night. A female traveling in open waters showed no diel rhythm, but its sonar activity was three times higher compared to the males'. Considerable individual differences in dive and echolocation activity could have been influenced by biological and physical factors, but also show behavioral adaptability necessary for survival in a complex coastal environment.