Quantifying Deep-Sea Predator-Prey Dynamics: Implications of Biological Heterogeneity for Beaked Whale Conservation
Journal Article - Open Access
Southall Environmental Associates, Inc. Aptos United States
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Prey distribution and density drive predator habitat usage and foraging behaviour. Understanding ecological relationships is necessary for effective management in any environment but can be challenging in certain contexts. While there has been substantial effort to quantify human disturbance for some protected, deep-diving marine mammals, there are virtually no direct measurements of deep-sea predatorprey dynamics. We used recently developed techniques to measure deep-water squid abundance, size and distribution within foraging habitat areas of deep-diving Cuviers beaked whales Ziphius cavirostris on and around a Navy training range where sonar is often used. Beaked whales are a management priority as both mortal strandings and sublethal disturbance have occurred in association with Navy mid-frequency sonar.