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Movements of Satellite-Tagged Cuvier's and Blainville's Beaked Whales in Hawaii: Evidence for an Offshore Population of Blainville's Beaked Whales

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The impacts of mid-frequency active sonar on the behavior of individual cetaceans may vary depending on their history of prior exposure. Evidence from habitat use, repeated sightings of identified individuals, and satellite tagging all indicate the existence of resident populations of Cuviers and Blainvilles beaked whales off the island of Hawaii, within the Navys Hawaii Range Complex. The number of individuals that have been satellite tagged is small however, and we are combining additional satellite tagging with individual photo-identification studies to assess movements and residency of both species. Field efforts were undertaken off the island of Hawaii in December 2008 and April and May 2009 to examine movements and habitat use. We obtained additional movement information from one satellite tagged Cuviers beaked whale 36 days and one satellite tagged Blainvilles beaked whale 40 days. The Cuviers beaked whale had been previously photo-identified in three different years and was linked by association with other whales from the island-associated population including three individuals satellite tagged in 2007 and 2008. During the 36 days of signal contact the whale remained strongly associated with the island, but spent the majority of its time off the east windward side of the island, providing the first evidence that individuals from the resident island-associated population use the windward side of the island. The tagged Blainvilles beaked whale and the other two individuals in the group had not been previously photo-identified, and were encountered further offshore 31.3 km and in deeper water 3,500 m than had been documented for the island-associated population.

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  • Ecology
  • Biological Oceanography

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