Beaked Whale Group Deep Dive Behavior from Passive Acoustic Monitoring
Navy Undersea Warfare Center Newport United States
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While a significant body of knowledge regarding individual beaked whale behavior at depth has been established in the last decade, little is known about how beaked whales interact as a group at depth. This lack of information makes it difficult to interpret the results of animal exposures to anthropogenic noise, and their impact on long term foraging success and population health. The objective of this study is to provide novel information on beaked whale group foraging dive behavior using Passive Acoustic Monitoring PAM at the Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center AUTEC. Blainvilles beaked whales, Mesoplodon densirostris Md, are routinely detected year-round on the AUTEC range, coincident with routine use of Navy sonar. By tracking individual whales within group foraging dives, a more complete understanding of group foraging strategy at depth will be obtained, including prey capture attempts, spatial relationships among conspecifics, independent or cooperative prey hunting, and foraging strategy. This information will be used to create a statistical model of beaked whale group deep dive behavior including behavioral dynamics of individuals within the group and group foraging strategy.