A recent study, published in PLoS ONE, explains a new way to identify beaked whale foraging habitats. The study was led by Dr. Elliott Hazen and colleagues from Duke University, Woods Hole, and the Naval Undersea Warfare Center.
They listened for foraging beaked whales and measured ocean features and distributions of prey off the east coast of Andross Island in the Bahamas. Their research provides evidence that these deep-diving creatures rely on specific ocean features like salinity and temperature to find their prey.
This is the first study describing the foraging methods of these animals relative to ocean features. Beaked whales are particularly difficult to study because of their deep-diving habits; they routeinly dive to over 1000 meters for over an hour in search of prey. They are toothed whales who feed primarily on fish and squid in deep waters, from 400 to 1000 meters.
Blaineville’s beaked whales are listed as ‘data deficient’ by the ICUN, and not much is known about them. They are thought to be sensitive to anthropogenic noise, and studies have suggested that beaked whale strandings coincided wtith naval sonar exercises in the Bahamas in 2000. This is why it is important to study these animals; the more we understand about their behavior and distribution, the better we can minimize harmful human impacts.
Copyright © 2011 by Marine Science Today, a publication of OceanLines LLC