Movements of the First Satellite-Tagged Cuvier's and Blainville's Beaked Whales in Hawaii
CASCADIA RESEARCH COLLECTIVE OLYMPIA WA
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Studies on the movement patterns and habitat use of cetaceans are often constrained by numerous factors including ship time, logistics, and the ability to track individuals over time. Obtaining information on beaked whales is especially difficult both due to their habits and their low population densities. To better understand movements of beaked whales in Hawaii, Argos-linked satellite tags were remotely applied to the dorsal fins of three Blainvilles beaked whales Mesoplodon densirostris and three Cuviers beaked whales Ziphius cavirostris in 2006 and 2008, representing the first time that beaked whales have been tracked by satellite. Transmissions for Blainvilles were received for 15, 16 and 23 days and for Cuviers for 2, 13 and 24 days. All six individuals were tagged west of the island of Hawaii. Five of the six individuals moved out of the study area but continued to remain associated with the island. All of the Blainvilles and one of the Cuviers moved into the Alenuihaha Channel, a site of naval antisubmarine warfare exercises that is difficult to survey due to unfavorable sea conditions. Movement patterns of tagged animals support the results of photo-identification studies which suggest the populations of both species are island-associated and that individuals exhibit strong site fidelity, both of which potentially increases the susceptibility of these small populations to anthropogenic impacts.
- Biological Oceanography