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- Data packageData from: Study "Blue and fin whales Southern California 2014-2015 - Argos data"(2020-06-17) Irvine, Ladd M.; Follett, Tomas M.; Winsor, Martha H.; Mate, Bruce R.; Palacios, Daniel M.Background: Argos satellite telemetry is used globally to track terrestrial and aquatic megafauna, yet the accuracy of this system has been described empirically only for a limited number of species. We used Argos-linked archival tags with Fastloc GPS deployed on free-ranging sperm (Physeter macrocephalus), blue (Balaenoptera musculus), and fin (B. physalus) whales to derive empirical estimates of Argos location errors for these species, examine possible behavior-related differences, and test the effect of incorporating species-specific error parameters on performance of a commonly used movement model. Results: Argos location errors for blue and fin whale tags were similar and were combined (n = 1712 locations) for comparison against sperm whale tags (n = 1206 locations). Location error magnitudes for tags attached to sperm whales were significantly larger than blue/fin whale tags for almost all Argos location classes (LC), ranging from 964 m versus 647 m for LC 3, respectively, to 10,569 m versus 5589 m for LC B, respectively. However, these differences were not seen while tags floated at the surface after release. Sperm whale tags were significantly colder than ambient temperature when surfacing from a dive, compared to blue/fin whale tags (16.9 °C versus 1.3 °C, respectively) leading to larger changes in tag temperature during post-dive intervals. The increased rate of tag temperature change while at the surface was correlated to increased error magnitude for sperm whales but not blue/fin whales. Movement model performance was not significantly improved by incorporating species-specific error parameters. Conclusions: Location accuracy estimates for blue/fin whales were within the range estimated for other marine megafauna, but were higher for sperm whales. Thermal inertia from deep, long-duration dives likely caused transmission frequency drift and greater Argos location error in sperm whales, as tags warmed at the surface during post-dive intervals. Thus, tracks of deep-diving species may be less accurate than for other species. However, differences in calculated error magnitude between species were less than typical scales of movement and had limited effect on movement model performance. Therefore, broad-scale interpretation of Argos tracking data will likely be unaffected, although fine-scale interpretation should be made with more caution for deep-diving species inhabiting warm regions.
- Data packageData from: Behavioural estimation of blue whale movements in the Northeast Pacific from state-space model analysis of satellite tracks(2019-02-08) Mate, Bruce R.; Palacios, Daniel M.; Irvine, Ladd M.; Follett, Tomas M.Baleen whale migrations typically consist of annual movements between productive, high-latitude feeding grounds and unproductive, low-latitude breeding grounds. However, the actual migratory path and whales’ behaviour in these locations are poorly known. The objectives of this study were to apply a switching state-space model to the satellite tracks of blue whales Balaenoptera musculus in the Northeast Pacific to improve location estimation and gain insight into the migratory (transiting) and foraging (area-restricted search, ARS) behaviours of this population. During the period 1993 to 2007, Argos satellite tags were attached to 159 whales, mainly off the coast of California during late summer, of which 92 tracks were >7 d in duration. There was generally a southward movement during the winter to Baja California and to an area west of the Costa Rica Dome, in the eastern tropical Pacific (ETP). Travel speeds during transit were significantly faster than during ARS movements (mean = 3.70 and 1.05 km h^–1, respectively). On average, 29% of the track time was spent in ARS, and the mean time within an ARS patch was 21 d. The occurrence of ARS behaviour throughout the migration cycle suggests that these animals may forage year-round, but could also indicate limited movements during the reproductive season. The extent of their northward migration from Baja California to Washington varied significantly interannually, likely in response to environmental changes affecting their prey. The long track durations obtained from electronic tagging have provided essential new information about the critical habitats of Northeast Pacific blue whales.
- Data packageData from: Scales of blue and fin whale feeding behavior off California, USA, with implications for prey patchiness(2019-12-03) Irvine, Ladd M.; Palacios, Daniel M.; Lagerquist, Barbara A.; Mate, Bruce R.; Follett, Tomas M.Intermediate-duration archival tags were attached to eight blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus; four females, three males, one of unknown sex) and five fin whales (B. physalus; two females, one male, two of unknown sex) off southern California, USA, in summer 2014 and 2015. Tags logged 1-Hz data from tri-axial accelerometers, magnetometers, and a depth sensor, while acquiring Fastloc GPS locations. Tag attachment duration ranged from 18.3-28.9 d for blue whales and 4.9-16.0 d for fin whales, recording 1,030-4,603 dives and 95-3,338 GPS locations per whale across both species. Feeding lunges (identified from accelerometer data) were used to characterize “feeding bouts” (i.e., sequences of feeding dives with < 60 min of consecutive non-feeding dives), within-bout behavior, and to examine the spatial distribution of feeding effort. Whales fed near the tagging locations (Point Mugu and San Miguel Island) for up to 7 d before dispersing as far south as Ensenada, Mexico, and north to Cape Mendocino, California. Dispersal within southern California waters differed by sex in both species with males undertaking offshore, circuitous excursions, while females remained more coastal, suggesting that movement patterns on the feeding grounds may not be exclusively related to energy gain. Feeding bout characteristics were similar for both species, with the median bout having 24 dives and lasting 3.3 h for blue whales (n = 242), and 19 dives while lasting 2.7 h for fin whales (n = 59). Bout duration was positively correlated with the number of feeding lunges per dive within a bout for both species, suggesting whales left poor-quality prey patches quickly but fed intensively for up to 34.9 h when prey was abundant. Feeding bouts occurred further apart as the distance from shore increased, but there was no corresponding difference in the number of feeding lunges per dive, suggesting the whales were feeding at the same rate throughout their range, but that prey was more dispersed in offshore waters. This may be evidence of two feeding strategies, with spatially aggregated foraging around highly localized, topographically forced upwelling centers nearshore, and more dispersed foraging in larger areas of elevated, but patchy, productivity offshore.
- Data packageData from: Deployment details for satellite tags deployed on Antarctic blue whales during the Antarctic blue whale voyage 2013, Ver. 2(2022-11-07) Andrews-Goff, Virginia; Bell, Elanor M.; Miller, Brian S.; Wotherspoon, Simon J.; Double, Michael C.One aim of the Antarctic blue whale voyage was to attempt to deploy satellite tags on Antarctic blue whales in order to describe their movement and behaviour. This was the first time satellite tags had ever been deployed on Antarctic blue whales. Antarctic blue whale movement has been described using static location information such as that derived from the retrieval of a discovery-tagged whales, photo identification or acoustic data. These techniques however are unable to provide a continuous record of actual movements instead inferring movement from two (or more) known locations at two (or more) separate points in time. Actual movements of the whale between these points in time are not known. As such, detailed information such as large scale migratory movement between breeding and feeding grounds or even fine scale movement within a feeding ground remain poorly understood.