Science.gov

Sample records for killer whale populations

  1. Genetic differentiation among North Atlantic killer whale populations.

    PubMed

    Foote, Andrew D; Vilstrup, Julia T; De Stephanis, Renaud; Verborgh, Philippe; Abel Nielsen, Sandra C; Deaville, Robert; Kleivane, Lars; Martín, Vidal; Miller, Patrick J O; Oien, Nils; Pérez-Gil, Monica; Rasmussen, Morten; Reid, Robert J; Robertson, Kelly M; Rogan, Emer; Similä, Tiu; Tejedor, Maria L; Vester, Heike; Víkingsson, Gísli A; Willerslev, Eske; Gilbert, M Thomas P; Piertney, Stuart B

    2011-02-01

    Population genetic structure of North Atlantic killer whale samples was resolved from differences in allele frequencies of 17 microsatellite loci, mtDNA control region haplotype frequencies and for a subset of samples, using complete mitogenome sequences. Three significantly differentiated populations were identified. Differentiation based on microsatellite allele frequencies was greater between the two allopatric populations than between the two pairs of partially sympatric populations. Spatial clustering of individuals within each of these populations overlaps with the distribution of particular prey resources: herring, mackerel and tuna, which each population has been seen predating. Phylogenetic analyses using complete mitogenomes suggested two populations could have resulted from single founding events and subsequent matrilineal expansion. The third population, which was sampled at lower latitudes and lower density, consisted of maternal lineages from three highly divergent clades. Pairwise population differentiation was greater for estimates based on mtDNA control region haplotype frequencies than for estimates based on microsatellite allele frequencies, and there were no mitogenome haplotypes shared among populations. This suggests low or no female migration and that gene flow was primarily male mediated when populations spatially and temporally overlap. These results demonstrate that genetic differentiation can arise through resource specialization in the absence of physical barriers to gene flow. PMID:21241391

  2. Killer whales and whaling: the scavenging hypothesis

    PubMed Central

    Whitehead, Hal; Reeves, Randall

    2005-01-01

    Killer whales (Orcinus orca) frequently scavenged from the carcasses produced by whalers. This practice became especially prominent with large-scale mechanical whaling in the twentieth century, which provided temporally and spatially clustered floating carcasses associated with loud acoustic signals. The carcasses were often of species of large whale preferred by killer whales but that normally sink beyond their diving range. In the middle years of the twentieth century floating whaled carcasses were much more abundant than those resulting from natural mortality of whales, and we propose that scavenging killer whales multiplied through diet shifts and reproduction. During the 1970s the numbers of available carcasses fell dramatically with the cessation of most whaling (in contrast to a reasonably stable abundance of living whales), and the scavenging killer whales needed an alternative source of nutrition. Diet shifts may have triggered declines in other prey species, potentially affecting ecosystems, as well as increasing direct predation on living whales. PMID:17148221

  3. Nuclear and mitochondrial patterns of population structure in North Pacific false killer whales (Pseudorca crassidens).

    PubMed

    Martien, Karen K; Chivers, Susan J; Baird, Robin W; Archer, Frederick I; Gorgone, Antoinette M; Hancock-Hanser, Brittany L; Mattila, David; McSweeney, Daniel J; Oleson, Erin M; Palmer, Carol; Pease, Victoria L; Robertson, Kelly M; Schorr, Gregory S; Schultz, Mark B; Webster, Daniel L; Taylor, Barbara L

    2014-01-01

    False killer whales (Pseudorca crassidens) are large delphinids typically found in deep water far offshore. However, in the Hawaiian Archipelago, there are 2 resident island-associated populations of false killer whales, one in the waters around the main Hawaiian Islands (MHI) and one in the waters around the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI). We use mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) control region sequences and genotypes from 16 nuclear DNA (nucDNA) microsatellite loci from 206 individuals to examine levels of differentiation among the 2 island-associated populations and offshore animals from the central and eastern North Pacific. Both mtDNA and nucDNA exhibit highly significant differentiation between populations, confirming limited gene flow in both sexes. The mtDNA haplotypes exhibit a strong pattern of phylogeographic concordance, with island-associated populations sharing 3 closely related haplotypes not found elsewhere in the Pacific. However, nucDNA data suggest that NWHI animals are at least as differentiated from MHI animals as they are from offshore animals. The patterns of differentiation revealed by the 2 marker types suggest that the island-associated false killer whale populations likely share a common colonization history, but have limited contemporary gene flow. PMID:24831238

  4. Call types of Bigg's killer whales (Orcinus orca) in western Alaska: Using vocal dialects to assess population structure

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Sharpe, Deborah Lynn

    Apex predators are important indicators of ecosystem health, but little is known about the population structure of Bigg's killer whales ( Orcinus orca; i.e. 'transient' ecotype) in western Alaska. Currently, all Bigg's killer whales in western Alaska are ascribed to a single broad stock for management under the US Marine Mammal Protection Act. However, recent nuclear microsatellite and mitochondrial DNA analyses indicate that this stock is likely comprised of genetically distinct sub-populations. In accordance with what is known about killer whale vocal dialects in other locations, I sought to evaluate Bigg's killer whale population structure by examining the spatial distribution of group-specific call types in western Alaska. Digital audio recordings were collected from 33 encounters with Bigg's killer whales throughout the Aleutian and Pribilof Islands in the summers of 2001-2007 and 2009-2010. Recorded calls were perceptually classified into discrete types and then quantitatively described using 12 structural and time-frequency measures. Resulting call categories were objectively validated using a random forest approach. A total of 36 call types and subtypes were identified across the entire study area, and regional patterns of call type usage revealed three distinct dialects, each of which corresponding to proposed genetic delineations. I suggest that at least three acoustically and genetically distinct subpopulations are present in western Alaska, and put forth an initial catalog for this area describing the regional vocal repertoires of Bigg's killer whale call types.

  5. Evolution of population structure in a highly social top predator, the killer whale.

    PubMed

    Hoelzel, A Rus; Hey, Jody; Dahlheim, Marilyn E; Nicholson, Colin; Burkanov, Vladimir; Black, Nancy

    2007-06-01

    Intraspecific resource partitioning and social affiliations both have the potential to structure populations, though it is rarely possible to directly assess the impact of these mechanisms on genetic diversity and population divergence. Here, we address this for killer whales (Orcinus orca), which specialize on prey species and hunting strategy and have long-term social affiliations involving both males and females. We used genetic markers to assess the structure and demographic history of regional populations and test the hypothesis that known foraging specializations and matrifocal sociality contributed significantly to the evolution of population structure. We find genetic structure in sympatry between populations of foraging specialists (ecotypes) and evidence for isolation by distance within an ecotype. Fitting of an isolation with migration model suggested ongoing, low-level migration between regional populations (within and between ecotypes) and small effective sizes for extant local populations. The founding of local populations by matrifocal social groups was indicated by the pattern of fixed mtDNA haplotypes in regional populations. Simulations indicate that this occurred within the last 20,000 years (after the last glacial maximum). Our data indicate a key role for social and foraging behavior in the evolution of genetic structure among conspecific populations of the killer whale. PMID:17400573

  6. Population genomics of the killer whale indicates ecotype evolution in sympatry involving both selection and drift.

    PubMed

    Moura, Andre E; Kenny, John G; Chaudhuri, Roy; Hughes, Margaret A; J Welch, Andreanna; Reisinger, Ryan R; de Bruyn, P J Nico; Dahlheim, Marilyn E; Hall, Neil; Hoelzel, A Rus

    2014-11-01

    The evolution of diversity in the marine ecosystem is poorly understood, given the relatively high potential for connectivity, especially for highly mobile species such as whales and dolphins. The killer whale (Orcinus orca) has a worldwide distribution, and individual social groups travel over a wide geographic range. Even so, regional populations have been shown to be genetically differentiated, including among different foraging specialists (ecotypes) in sympatry. Given the strong matrifocal social structure of this species together with strong resource specializations, understanding the process of differentiation will require an understanding of the relative importance of both genetic drift and local adaptation. Here we provide a high-resolution analysis based on nuclear single-nucleotide polymorphic markers and inference about differentiation at both neutral loci and those potentially under selection. We find that all population comparisons, within or among foraging ecotypes, show significant differentiation, including populations in parapatry and sympatry. Loci putatively under selection show a different pattern of structure compared to neutral loci and are associated with gene ontology terms reflecting physiologically relevant functions (e.g. related to digestion). The pattern of differentiation for one ecotype in the North Pacific suggests local adaptation and shows some fixed differences among sympatric ecotypes. We suggest that differential habitat use and resource specializations have promoted sufficient isolation to allow differential evolution at neutral and functional loci, but that the process is recent and dependent on both selection and drift. PMID:25244680

  7. Population genomics of the killer whale indicates ecotype evolution in sympatry involving both selection and drift

    PubMed Central

    Moura, Andre E; Kenny, John G; Chaudhuri, Roy; Hughes, Margaret A; J Welch, Andreanna; Reisinger, Ryan R; de Bruyn, P J Nico; Dahlheim, Marilyn E; Hall, Neil; Hoelzel, A Rus

    2014-01-01

    The evolution of diversity in the marine ecosystem is poorly understood, given the relatively high potential for connectivity, especially for highly mobile species such as whales and dolphins. The killer whale (Orcinus orca) has a worldwide distribution, and individual social groups travel over a wide geographic range. Even so, regional populations have been shown to be genetically differentiated, including among different foraging specialists (ecotypes) in sympatry. Given the strong matrifocal social structure of this species together with strong resource specializations, understanding the process of differentiation will require an understanding of the relative importance of both genetic drift and local adaptation. Here we provide a high-resolution analysis based on nuclear single-nucleotide polymorphic markers and inference about differentiation at both neutral loci and those potentially under selection. We find that all population comparisons, within or among foraging ecotypes, show significant differentiation, including populations in parapatry and sympatry. Loci putatively under selection show a different pattern of structure compared to neutral loci and are associated with gene ontology terms reflecting physiologically relevant functions (e.g. related to digestion). The pattern of differentiation for one ecotype in the North Pacific suggests local adaptation and shows some fixed differences among sympatric ecotypes. We suggest that differential habitat use and resource specializations have promoted sufficient isolation to allow differential evolution at neutral and functional loci, but that the process is recent and dependent on both selection and drift. PMID:25244680

  8. Killer whales (Orcinus orca) produce ultrasonic whistles.

    PubMed

    Samarra, Filipa I P; Deecke, Volker B; Vinding, Katja; Rasmussen, Marianne H; Swift, René J; Miller, Patrick J O

    2010-11-01

    This study reports that killer whales, the largest dolphin, produce whistles with the highest fundamental frequencies ever reported in a delphinid. Using wide-band acoustic sampling from both animal-attached (Dtag) and remotely deployed hydrophone arrays, ultrasonic whistles were detected in three Northeast Atlantic populations but not in two Northeast Pacific populations. These results are inconsistent with analyses suggesting a correlation of maximum frequency of whistles with body size in delphinids, indicate substantial intraspecific variation in whistle production in killer whales, and highlight the importance of appropriate acoustic sampling techniques when conducting comparative analyses of sound repertoires. PMID:21110527

  9. Inferred Paternity and Male Reproductive Success in a Killer Whale (Orcinus orca) Population.

    PubMed

    Ford, Michael J; Hanson, M Bradley; Hempelmann, Jennifer A; Ayres, Katherine L; Emmons, Candice K; Schorr, Gregory S; Baird, Robin W; Balcomb, Kenneth C; Wasser, Samuel K; Parsons, Kim M; Balcomb-Bartok, Kelly

    2011-01-01

    We used data from 78 individuals at 26 microsatellite loci to infer parental and sibling relationships within a community of fish-eating ("resident") eastern North Pacific killer whales (Orcinus orca). Paternity analysis involving 15 mother/calf pairs and 8 potential fathers and whole-pedigree analysis of the entire sample produced consistent results. The variance in male reproductive success was greater than expected by chance and similar to that of other aquatic mammals. Although the number of confirmed paternities was small, reproductive success appeared to increase with male age and size. We found no evidence that males from outside this small population sired any of the sampled individuals. In contrast to previous results in a different population, many offspring were the result of matings within the same "pod" (long-term social group). Despite this pattern of breeding within social groups, we found no evidence of offspring produced by matings between close relatives, and the average internal relatedness of individuals was significantly less than expected if mating were random. The population's estimated effective size was <30 or about 1/3 of the current census size. Patterns of allele frequency variation were consistent with a population bottleneck. PMID:21757487

  10. Keiko, Killer Whale. [Lesson Plan].

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Discovery Communications, Inc., Bethesda, MD.

    This lesson plan presents activities designed to help students understand that Keiko, the killer whale, lived for a long time in an aquarium and had to be taught to live independently; and that computer users can get updates on how Keiko is doing. The main activity of the lesson involves middle school students working in small groups to produce a…

  11. Estimation of a Killer Whale (Orcinus orca) Population's Diet Using Sequencing Analysis of DNA from Feces.

    PubMed

    Ford, Michael J; Hempelmann, Jennifer; Hanson, M Bradley; Ayres, Katherine L; Baird, Robin W; Emmons, Candice K; Lundin, Jessica I; Schorr, Gregory S; Wasser, Samuel K; Park, Linda K

    2016-01-01

    Estimating diet composition is important for understanding interactions between predators and prey and thus illuminating ecosystem function. The diet of many species, however, is difficult to observe directly. Genetic analysis of fecal material collected in the field is therefore a useful tool for gaining insight into wild animal diets. In this study, we used high-throughput DNA sequencing to quantitatively estimate the diet composition of an endangered population of wild killer whales (Orcinus orca) in their summer range in the Salish Sea. We combined 175 fecal samples collected between May and September from five years between 2006 and 2011 into 13 sample groups. Two known DNA composition control groups were also created. Each group was sequenced at a ~330bp segment of the 16s gene in the mitochondrial genome using an Illumina MiSeq sequencing system. After several quality controls steps, 4,987,107 individual sequences were aligned to a custom sequence database containing 19 potential fish prey species and the most likely species of each fecal-derived sequence was determined. Based on these alignments, salmonids made up >98.6% of the total sequences and thus of the inferred diet. Of the six salmonid species, Chinook salmon made up 79.5% of the sequences, followed by coho salmon (15%). Over all years, a clear pattern emerged with Chinook salmon dominating the estimated diet early in the summer, and coho salmon contributing an average of >40% of the diet in late summer. Sockeye salmon appeared to be occasionally important, at >18% in some sample groups. Non-salmonids were rarely observed. Our results are consistent with earlier results based on surface prey remains, and confirm the importance of Chinook salmon in this population's summer diet. PMID:26735849

  12. Distinguishing the impacts of inadequate prey and vessel traffic on an endangered killer whale (Orcinus orca) population.

    PubMed

    Ayres, Katherine L; Booth, Rebecca K; Hempelmann, Jennifer A; Koski, Kari L; Emmons, Candice K; Baird, Robin W; Balcomb-Bartok, Kelley; Hanson, M Bradley; Ford, Michael J; Wasser, Samuel K

    2012-01-01

    Managing endangered species often involves evaluating the relative impacts of multiple anthropogenic and ecological pressures. This challenge is particularly formidable for cetaceans, which spend the majority of their time underwater. Noninvasive physiological approaches can be especially informative in this regard. We used a combination of fecal thyroid (T3) and glucocorticoid (GC) hormone measures to assess two threats influencing the endangered southern resident killer whales (SRKW; Orcinus orca) that frequent the inland waters of British Columbia, Canada and Washington, U.S.A. Glucocorticoids increase in response to nutritional and psychological stress, whereas thyroid hormone declines in response to nutritional stress but is unaffected by psychological stress. The inadequate prey hypothesis argues that the killer whales have become prey limited due to reductions of their dominant prey, Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha). The vessel impact hypothesis argues that high numbers of vessels in close proximity to the whales cause disturbance via psychological stress and/or impaired foraging ability. The GC and T3 measures supported the inadequate prey hypothesis. In particular, GC concentrations were negatively correlated with short-term changes in prey availability. Whereas, T3 concentrations varied by date and year in a manner that corresponded with more long-term prey availability. Physiological correlations with prey overshadowed any impacts of vessels since GCs were lowest during the peak in vessel abundance, which also coincided with the peak in salmon availability. Our results suggest that identification and recovery of strategic salmon populations in the SRKW diet are important to effectively promote SRKW recovery. PMID:22701560

  13. Distinguishing the Impacts of Inadequate Prey and Vessel Traffic on an Endangered Killer Whale (Orcinus orca) Population

    PubMed Central

    Ayres, Katherine L.; Booth, Rebecca K.; Hempelmann, Jennifer A.; Koski, Kari L.; Emmons, Candice K.; Baird, Robin W.; Balcomb-Bartok, Kelley; Hanson, M. Bradley; Ford, Michael J.; Wasser, Samuel K.

    2012-01-01

    Managing endangered species often involves evaluating the relative impacts of multiple anthropogenic and ecological pressures. This challenge is particularly formidable for cetaceans, which spend the majority of their time underwater. Noninvasive physiological approaches can be especially informative in this regard. We used a combination of fecal thyroid (T3) and glucocorticoid (GC) hormone measures to assess two threats influencing the endangered southern resident killer whales (SRKW; Orcinus orca) that frequent the inland waters of British Columbia, Canada and Washington, U.S.A. Glucocorticoids increase in response to nutritional and psychological stress, whereas thyroid hormone declines in response to nutritional stress but is unaffected by psychological stress. The inadequate prey hypothesis argues that the killer whales have become prey limited due to reductions of their dominant prey, Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha). The vessel impact hypothesis argues that high numbers of vessels in close proximity to the whales cause disturbance via psychological stress and/or impaired foraging ability. The GC and T3 measures supported the inadequate prey hypothesis. In particular, GC concentrations were negatively correlated with short-term changes in prey availability. Whereas, T3 concentrations varied by date and year in a manner that corresponded with more long-term prey availability. Physiological correlations with prey overshadowed any impacts of vessels since GCs were lowest during the peak in vessel abundance, which also coincided with the peak in salmon availability. Our results suggest that identification and recovery of strategic salmon populations in the SRKW diet are important to effectively promote SRKW recovery. PMID:22701560

  14. Killer whale ecotypes: is there a global model?

    PubMed

    de Bruyn, P J N; Tosh, Cheryl A; Terauds, Aleks

    2013-02-01

    Killer whales, Orcinus orca, are top predators occupying key ecological roles in a variety of ecosystems and are one of the most widely distributed mammals on the planet. In consequence, there has been significant interest in understanding their basic biology and ecology. Long-term studies of Northern Hemisphere killer whales, particularly in the eastern North Pacific (ENP), have identified three ecologically distinct communities or ecotypes in that region. The success of these prominent ENP studies has led to similar efforts at clarifying the role of killer whale ecology in other regions, including Antarctica. In the Southern Hemisphere, killer whales present a range of behavioural, social and morphological characteristics to biologists, who often interpret this as evidence to categorize individuals or groups, and draw general ecological conclusions about these super-predators. Morphologically distinct forms (Type A, B, C, and D) occur in the Southern Ocean and studies of these different forms are often presented in conjunction with evidence for specialised ecology and behaviours. Here we review current knowledge of killer whale ecology and ecotyping globally and present a synthesis of existing knowledge. In particular, we highlight the complexity of killer whale ecology in the Southern Hemisphere and examine this in the context of comparatively well-studied Northern Hemisphere populations. We suggest that assigning erroneous or prefatory ecotypic status in the Southern Hemisphere could be detrimental to subsequent killer whale studies, because unsubstantiated characteristics may be assumed as a result of such classification. On this basis, we also recommend that ecotypic status classification for Southern Ocean killer whale morphotypes be reserved until more evidence-based ecological and taxonomic data are obtained. PMID:22882545

  15. Social cohesion among kin, gene flow without dispersal and the evolution of population genetic structure in the killer whale (Orcinus orca).

    PubMed

    Pilot, M; Dahlheim, M E; Hoelzel, A R

    2010-01-01

    In social species, breeding system and gregarious behavior are key factors influencing the evolution of large-scale population genetic structure. The killer whale is a highly social apex predator showing genetic differentiation in sympatry between populations of foraging specialists (ecotypes), and low levels of genetic diversity overall. Our comparative assessments of kinship, parentage and dispersal reveal high levels of kinship within local populations and ongoing male-mediated gene flow among them, including among ecotypes that are maximally divergent within the mtDNA phylogeny. Dispersal from natal populations was rare, implying that gene flow occurs without dispersal, as a result of reproduction during temporary interactions. Discordance between nuclear and mitochondrial phylogenies was consistent with earlier studies suggesting a stochastic basis for the magnitude of mtDNA differentiation between matrilines. Taken together our results show how the killer whale breeding system, coupled with social, dispersal and foraging behaviour, contributes to the evolution of population genetic structure. PMID:19912451

  16. Killer whale nuclear genome and mtDNA reveal widespread population bottleneck during the last glacial maximum.

    PubMed

    Moura, Andre E; Janse van Rensburg, Charlene; Pilot, Malgorzata; Tehrani, Arman; Best, Peter B; Thornton, Meredith; Plön, Stephanie; de Bruyn, P J Nico; Worley, Kim C; Gibbs, Richard A; Dahlheim, Marilyn E; Hoelzel, Alan Rus

    2014-05-01

    Ecosystem function and resilience is determined by the interactions and independent contributions of individual species. Apex predators play a disproportionately determinant role through their influence and dependence on the dynamics of prey species. Their demographic fluctuations are thus likely to reflect changes in their respective ecological communities and habitat. Here, we investigate the historical population dynamics of the killer whale based on draft nuclear genome data for the Northern Hemisphere and mtDNA data worldwide. We infer a relatively stable population size throughout most of the Pleistocene, followed by an order of magnitude decline and bottleneck during the Weichselian glacial period. Global mtDNA data indicate that while most populations declined, at least one population retained diversity in a stable, productive ecosystem off southern Africa. We conclude that environmental changes during the last glacial period promoted the decline of a top ocean predator, that these events contributed to the pattern of diversity among extant populations, and that the relatively high diversity of a population currently in productive, stable habitat off South Africa suggests a role for ocean productivity in the widespread decline. PMID:24497033

  17. Killer Whale Nuclear Genome and mtDNA Reveal Widespread Population Bottleneck during the Last Glacial Maximum

    PubMed Central

    Moura, Andre E.; Janse van Rensburg, Charlene; Pilot, Malgorzata; Tehrani, Arman; Best, Peter B.; Thornton, Meredith; Plön, Stephanie; de Bruyn, P.J. Nico; Worley, Kim C.; Gibbs, Richard A.; Dahlheim, Marilyn E.; Hoelzel, Alan Rus

    2014-01-01

    Ecosystem function and resilience is determined by the interactions and independent contributions of individual species. Apex predators play a disproportionately determinant role through their influence and dependence on the dynamics of prey species. Their demographic fluctuations are thus likely to reflect changes in their respective ecological communities and habitat. Here, we investigate the historical population dynamics of the killer whale based on draft nuclear genome data for the Northern Hemisphere and mtDNA data worldwide. We infer a relatively stable population size throughout most of the Pleistocene, followed by an order of magnitude decline and bottleneck during the Weichselian glacial period. Global mtDNA data indicate that while most populations declined, at least one population retained diversity in a stable, productive ecosystem off southern Africa. We conclude that environmental changes during the last glacial period promoted the decline of a top ocean predator, that these events contributed to the pattern of diversity among extant populations, and that the relatively high diversity of a population currently in productive, stable habitat off South Africa suggests a role for ocean productivity in the widespread decline. PMID:24497033

  18. Adaptive prolonged postreproductive life span in killer whales.

    PubMed

    Foster, Emma A; Franks, Daniel W; Mazzi, Sonia; Darden, Safi K; Balcomb, Ken C; Ford, John K B; Croft, Darren P

    2012-09-14

    Prolonged life after reproduction is difficult to explain evolutionarily unless it arises as a physiological side effect of increased longevity or it benefits related individuals (i.e., increases inclusive fitness). There is little evidence that postreproductive life spans are adaptive in nonhuman animals. By using multigenerational records for two killer whale (Orcinus orca) populations in which females can live for decades after their final parturition, we show that postreproductive mothers increase the survival of offspring, particularly their older male offspring. This finding may explain why female killer whales have evolved the longest postreproductive life span of all nonhuman animals. PMID:22984064

  19. Sounds produced by Norwegian killer whales, Orcinus orca, during capture

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    van Parijs, Sofie M.; Leyssen, Teo; Similä, Tiu

    2004-07-01

    To date very little is still known about the acoustic behavior of Norwegian killer whales, in particular that of individual whales. In this study a unique opportunity was presented to document the sounds produced by five captured killer whales in the Vestfjord area, northern Norway. Individuals produced 14 discrete and 7 compound calls. Two call types were used both by individuals 16178 and 23365 suggesting that they may belong to the same pod. Comparisons with calls documented in Strager (1993) showed that none of the call types used by the captured individuals were present. The lack of these calls in the available literature suggests that call variability within individuals is likely to be large. This short note adds to our knowledge of the vocal repertoire of this population and demonstrates the need for further studies to provide behavioural context to these sounds.

  20. Phylogenomics of the killer whale indicates ecotype divergence in sympatry.

    PubMed

    Moura, A E; Kenny, J G; Chaudhuri, R R; Hughes, M A; Reisinger, R R; de Bruyn, P J N; Dahlheim, M E; Hall, N; Hoelzel, A R

    2015-01-01

    For many highly mobile species, the marine environment presents few obvious barriers to gene flow. Even so, there is considerable diversity within and among species, referred to by some as the 'marine speciation paradox'. The recent and diverse radiation of delphinid cetaceans (dolphins) represents a good example of this. Delphinids are capable of extensive dispersion and yet many show fine-scale genetic differentiation among populations. Proposed mechanisms include the division and isolation of populations based on habitat dependence and resource specializations, and habitat release or changing dispersal corridors during glacial cycles. Here we use a phylogenomic approach to investigate the origin of differentiated sympatric populations of killer whales (Orcinus orca). Killer whales show strong specialization on prey choice in populations of stable matrifocal social groups (ecotypes), associated with genetic and phenotypic differentiation. Our data suggest evolution in sympatry among populations of resource specialists. PMID:25052415

  1. Low-frequency signals produced by Northeast Atlantic killer whales (Orcinus orca).

    PubMed

    Samarra, Filipa I P; Deecke, Volker B; Miller, Patrick J O

    2016-03-01

    Killer whale acoustic behavior has been extensively investigated; however, most studies have focused on pulsed calls and whistles. This study reports the production of low-frequency signals by killer whales at frequencies below 300 Hz. Recordings were made in Iceland and Norway when killer whales were observed feeding on herring and no other marine mammal species were nearby. Low-frequency sounds were identified in Iceland and ranged in duration between 0.14 and 2.77 s and in frequency between 50 and 270 Hz, well below the previously reported lower limit for killer whale tonal sounds of 500 Hz. Low-frequency sounds appeared to be produced close in time to tail slaps, which are indicative of feeding attempts, suggesting that these sounds may be related to a feeding context. However, their precise function is unknown, and they could be the by-product of a non-vocal behavior rather than a vocal signal deliberately produced by the whales. Although killer whales in Norway exhibit similar feeding behavior, this sound has not been detected in recordings from Norway to date. This study suggests that, like other delphinids, killer whales produce low-frequency sounds, but further studies will be required to understand whether similar sounds exist in other killer whale populations. PMID:27036251

  2. Is killer whale dialect evolution random?

    PubMed

    Filatova, Olga A; Burdin, Alexandr M; Hoyt, Erich

    2013-10-01

    The killer whale is among the few species in which cultural change accumulates over many generations, leading to cumulative cultural evolution. Killer whales have group-specific vocal repertoires which are thought to be learned rather than being genetically coded. It is supposed that divergence between vocal repertoires of sister groups increases gradually over time due to random learning mistakes and innovations. In this case, the similarity of calls across groups must be correlated with pod relatedness and, consequently, with each other. In this study we tested this prediction by comparing the patterns of call similarity between matrilines of resident killer whales from Eastern Kamchatka. We calculated the similarity of seven components from three call types across 14 matrilines. In contrast to the theoretical predictions, matrilines formed different clusters on the dendrograms made by different calls and even by different components of the same call. We suggest three possible explanations for this phenomenon. First, the lack of agreement between similarity patterns of different components may be the result of constraints in the call structure. Second, it is possible that call components change in time with different speed and/or in different directions. Third, horizontal cultural transmission of call features may occur between matrilines. PMID:23796775

  3. Geographic patterns of genetic differentiation among killer whales in the northern North Pacific.

    PubMed

    Parsons, Kim M; Durban, John W; Burdin, Alexander M; Burkanov, Vladimir N; Pitman, Robert L; Barlow, Jay; Barrett-Lennard, Lance G; LeDuc, Richard G; Robertson, Kelly M; Matkin, Craig O; Wade, Paul R

    2013-01-01

    The difficulties associated with detecting population boundaries have long constrained the conservation and management of highly mobile, wide-ranging marine species, such as killer whales (Orcinus orca). In this study, we use data from 26 nuclear microsatellite loci and mitochondrial DNA sequences (988bp) to test a priori hypotheses about population subdivisions generated from a decade of killer whale surveys across the northern North Pacific. A total of 462 remote skin biopsies were collected from wild killer whales primarily between 2001 and 2010 from the northern Gulf of Alaska to the Sea of Okhotsk, representing both the piscivorous "resident" and the mammal-eating "transient" (or Bigg's) killer whales. Divergence of the 2 ecotypes was supported by both mtDNA and microsatellites. Geographic patterns of genetic differentiation were supported by significant regions of genetic discontinuity, providing evidence of population structuring within both ecotypes and corroborating direct observations of restricted movements of individual whales. In the Aleutian Islands (Alaska), subpopulations, or groups with significantly different mtDNA and microsatellite allele frequencies, were largely delimited by major oceanographic boundaries for resident killer whales. Although Amchitka Pass represented a major subdivision for transient killer whales between the central and western Aleutian Islands, several smaller subpopulations were evident throughout the eastern Aleutians and Bering Sea. Support for seasonally sympatric transient subpopulations around Unimak Island suggests isolating mechanisms other than geographic distance within this highly mobile top predator. PMID:23846984

  4. Competing Conservation Objectives for Predators and Prey: Estimating Killer Whale Prey Requirements for Chinook Salmon

    PubMed Central

    Williams, Rob; Krkošek, Martin; Ashe, Erin; Branch, Trevor A.; Clark, Steve; Hammond, Philip S.; Hoyt, Erich; Noren, Dawn P.; Rosen, David; Winship, Arliss

    2011-01-01

    Ecosystem-based management (EBM) of marine resources attempts to conserve interacting species. In contrast to single-species fisheries management, EBM aims to identify and resolve conflicting objectives for different species. Such a conflict may be emerging in the northeastern Pacific for southern resident killer whales (Orcinus orca) and their primary prey, Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha). Both species have at-risk conservation status and transboundary (Canada–US) ranges. We modeled individual killer whale prey requirements from feeding and growth records of captive killer whales and morphometric data from historic live-capture fishery and whaling records worldwide. The models, combined with caloric value of salmon, and demographic and diet data for wild killer whales, allow us to predict salmon quantities needed to maintain and recover this killer whale population, which numbered 87 individuals in 2009. Our analyses provide new information on cost of lactation and new parameter estimates for other killer whale populations globally. Prey requirements of southern resident killer whales are difficult to reconcile with fisheries and conservation objectives for Chinook salmon, because the number of fish required is large relative to annual returns and fishery catches. For instance, a U.S. recovery goal (2.3% annual population growth of killer whales over 28 years) implies a 75% increase in energetic requirements. Reducing salmon fisheries may serve as a temporary mitigation measure to allow time for management actions to improve salmon productivity to take effect. As ecosystem-based fishery management becomes more prevalent, trade-offs between conservation objectives for predators and prey will become increasingly necessary. Our approach offers scenarios to compare relative influence of various sources of uncertainty on the resulting consumption estimates to prioritise future research efforts, and a general approach for assessing the extent of conflict

  5. Competing conservation objectives for predators and prey: estimating killer whale prey requirements for Chinook salmon.

    PubMed

    Williams, Rob; Krkošek, Martin; Ashe, Erin; Branch, Trevor A; Clark, Steve; Hammond, Philip S; Hoyt, Erich; Noren, Dawn P; Rosen, David; Winship, Arliss

    2011-01-01

    Ecosystem-based management (EBM) of marine resources attempts to conserve interacting species. In contrast to single-species fisheries management, EBM aims to identify and resolve conflicting objectives for different species. Such a conflict may be emerging in the northeastern Pacific for southern resident killer whales (Orcinus orca) and their primary prey, Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha). Both species have at-risk conservation status and transboundary (Canada-US) ranges. We modeled individual killer whale prey requirements from feeding and growth records of captive killer whales and morphometric data from historic live-capture fishery and whaling records worldwide. The models, combined with caloric value of salmon, and demographic and diet data for wild killer whales, allow us to predict salmon quantities needed to maintain and recover this killer whale population, which numbered 87 individuals in 2009. Our analyses provide new information on cost of lactation and new parameter estimates for other killer whale populations globally. Prey requirements of southern resident killer whales are difficult to reconcile with fisheries and conservation objectives for Chinook salmon, because the number of fish required is large relative to annual returns and fishery catches. For instance, a U.S. recovery goal (2.3% annual population growth of killer whales over 28 years) implies a 75% increase in energetic requirements. Reducing salmon fisheries may serve as a temporary mitigation measure to allow time for management actions to improve salmon productivity to take effect. As ecosystem-based fishery management becomes more prevalent, trade-offs between conservation objectives for predators and prey will become increasingly necessary. Our approach offers scenarios to compare relative influence of various sources of uncertainty on the resulting consumption estimates to prioritise future research efforts, and a general approach for assessing the extent of conflict

  6. Comparisons of life-history parameters between free-ranging and captive killer whale (Orcinus orca) populations for application toward species management

    PubMed Central

    Robeck, Todd R.; Willis, Kevin; Scarpuzzi, Michael R.; O’Brien, Justine K.

    2015-01-01

    Data collected on life-history parameters of known-age animals from the northern (NR) and southern resident (SR) killer whales (Orcinus orca) of the eastern North Pacific were compared with life-history traits of killer whales located at SeaWorld (SEA) facilities. For captive-born SEA animals, mean age and body length at 1st estrus was 7.5 years and 483.7cm, respectively. Estimated mean age at 1st conception was different (P < 0.001) for the combined data from both northern and southern resident (NSR) free-ranging populations (12.1 years) compared to SEA (9.8 years), as was the estimated mean age at 1st observed calf (SEA: 11.1 years, NSR: 14.2 years, P < 0.001). Average calf survival rate to 2 years of age for SEA animals (0.966) was significantly greater (P = 0.04) than that for SR (0.799). Annual survival rate (ASR) for SEA increased over approximately 15-year increments with rates in the most recent period (2000–2015 ASR: 0.976) improved (P < 0.05) over the first 2 periods of captivity (1965–1985: 0.906; 1985–2000: 0.941). The SR (0.966) and NR ASR (0.977) were higher (P ≤ 0.05) than that of SEA until 2000, after which there were no inter-population differences. Based on ASR, median and average life expectancy were 28.8 and 41.6 years (SEA: 2000–2015), 20.1 and 29.0 years (SR), and 29.3 and 42.3 years (NR), respectively. The ASR for animals born at SEA (0.979) was higher (P = 0.02) than that of wild-caught SEA animals (0.944) with a median and average life expectancy of 33.1 and 47.7 years, respectively. These data present evidence for similar life-history parameters of free-ranging and captive killer whale populations and the reproductive potential and survivorship patterns established herein have application for use in future research concerning the overall health of both populations. PMID:26937049

  7. Killer whale call frequency is similar across the oceans, but varies across sympatric ecotypes.

    PubMed

    Filatova, Olga A; Miller, Patrick J O; Yurk, Harald; Samarra, Filipa I P; Hoyt, Erich; Ford, John K B; Matkin, Craig O; Barrett-Lennard, Lance G

    2015-07-01

    Killer whale populations may differ in genetics, morphology, ecology, and behavior. In the North Pacific, two sympatric populations ("resident" and "transient") specialize on different prey (fish and marine mammals) and retain reproductive isolation. In the eastern North Atlantic, whales from the same populations have been observed feeding on both fish and marine mammals. Fish-eating North Pacific "residents" are more genetically related to eastern North Atlantic killer whales than to sympatric mammal-eating "transients." In this paper, a comparison of frequency variables in killer whale calls recorded from four North Pacific resident, two North Pacific transient, and two eastern North Atlantic populations is reported to assess which factors drive the large-scale changes in call structure. Both low-frequency and high-frequency components of North Pacific transient killer whale calls have significantly lower frequencies than those of the North Pacific resident and North Atlantic populations. The difference in frequencies could be related to ecological specialization or to the phylogenetic history of these populations. North Pacific transient killer whales may have genetically inherited predisposition toward lower frequencies that may shape their learned repertoires. PMID:26233024

  8. Food Web Bioaccumulation Model for Resident Killer Whales from the Northeastern Pacific Ocean as a Tool for the Derivation of PBDE-Sediment Quality Guidelines.

    PubMed

    Alava, Juan José; Ross, Peter S; Gobas, Frank A P C

    2016-01-01

    Resident killer whale populations in the NE Pacific Ocean are at risk due to the accumulation of pollutants, including polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). To assess the impact of PBDEs in water and sediments in killer whale critical habitat, we developed a food web bioaccumulation model. The model was designed to estimate PBDE concentrations in killer whales based on PBDE concentrations in sediments and the water column throughout a lifetime of exposure. Calculated and observed PBDE concentrations exceeded the only toxicity reference value available for PBDEs in marine mammals (1500 μg/kg lipid) in southern resident killer whales but not in northern resident killer whales. Temporal trends (1993-2006) for PBDEs observed in southern resident killer whales showed a doubling time of ≈5 years. If current sediment quality guidelines available in Canada for polychlorinated biphenyls are applied to PBDEs, it can be expected that PBDE concentrations in killer whales will exceed available toxicity reference values by a large margin. Model calculations suggest that a PBDE concentration in sediments of approximately 1.0 μg/kg dw produces PBDE concentrations in resident killer whales that are below the current toxicity reference value for 95 % of the population, with this value serving as a precautionary benchmark for a management-based approach to reducing PBDE health risks to killer whales. The food web bioaccumulation model may be a useful risk management tool in support of regulatory protection for killer whales. PMID:26289814

  9. Linking killer whale survival and prey abundance: food limitation in the oceans' apex predator?

    PubMed

    Ford, John K B; Ellis, Graeme M; Olesiuk, Peter F; Balcomb, Kenneth C

    2010-02-23

    Killer whales (Orcinus orca) are large predators that occupy the top trophic position in the world's oceans and as such may have important roles in marine ecosystem dynamics. Although the possible top-down effects of killer whale predation on populations of their prey have received much recent attention, little is known of how the abundance of these predators may be limited by bottom-up processes. Here we show, using 25 years of demographic data from two populations of fish-eating killer whales in the northeastern Pacific Ocean, that population trends are driven largely by changes in survival, and that survival rates are strongly correlated with the availability of their principal prey species, Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha). Our results suggest that, although these killer whales may consume a variety of fish species, they are highly specialized and dependent on this single salmonid species to an extent that it is a limiting factor in their population dynamics. Other ecologically specialized killer whale populations may be similarly constrained to a narrow range of prey species by culturally inherited foraging strategies, and thus are limited in their ability to adapt rapidly to changing prey availability. PMID:19755531

  10. Positive selection on the killer whale mitogenome.

    PubMed

    Foote, Andrew D; Morin, Phillip A; Durban, John W; Pitman, Robert L; Wade, Paul; Willerslev, Eske; Gilbert, M Thomas P; da Fonseca, Rute R

    2011-02-23

    Mitochondria produce up to 95 per cent of the eukaryotic cell's energy. The coding genes of the mitochondrial DNA may therefore evolve under selection owing to metabolic requirements. The killer whale, Orcinus orca, is polymorphic, has a global distribution and occupies a range of ecological niches. It is therefore a suitable organism for testing this hypothesis. We compared a global dataset of the complete mitochondrial genomes of 139 individuals for amino acid changes that were associated with radical physico-chemical property changes and were influenced by positive selection. Two such selected non-synonymous amino acid changes were found; one in each of two ecotypes that inhabit the Antarctic pack ice. Both substitutions were associated with changes in local polarity, increased steric constraints and α-helical tendencies that could influence overall metabolic performance, suggesting a functional change. PMID:20810427

  11. Life history evolution: what does a menopausal killer whale do?

    PubMed

    Whitehead, Hal

    2015-03-16

    Menopause evolved in humans and whales, presumably because older females can help their kin. But how do they help? New research shows that post-menopausal female killer whales lead foraging groups. This leadership is most significant when food is scarce. PMID:25784039

  12. Vulnerability of a killer whale social network to disease outbreaks

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Guimarães, Paulo R., Jr.; de Menezes, Márcio Argollo; Baird, Robin W.; Lusseau, David; Guimarães, Paulo; Dos Reis, Sérgio F.

    2007-10-01

    Emerging infectious diseases are among the main threats to conservation of biological diversity. A crucial task facing epidemiologists is to predict the vulnerability of populations of endangered animals to disease outbreaks. In this context, the network structure of social interactions within animal populations may affect disease spreading. However, endangered animal populations are often small and to investigate the dynamics of small networks is a difficult task. Using network theory, we show that the social structure of an endangered population of mammal-eating killer whales is vulnerable to disease outbreaks. This feature was found to be a consequence of the combined effects of the topology and strength of social links among individuals. Our results uncover a serious challenge for conservation of the species and its ecosystem. In addition, this study shows that the network approach can be useful to study dynamical processes in very small networks.

  13. Sperm whales and killer whales with the largest brains of all toothed whales show extreme differences in cerebellum.

    PubMed

    Ridgway, Sam H; Hanson, Alicia C

    2014-01-01

    Among cetaceans, killer whales and sperm whales have the widest distribution in the world's oceans. Both species use echolocation, are long-lived, and have the longest periods of gestation among whales. Sperm whales dive much deeper and much longer than killer whales. It has long been thought that sperm whales have the largest brains of all living things, but our brain mass evidence, from published sources and our own specimens, shows that big males of these two species share this distinction. Despite this, we also find that cerebellum size is very different between killer whales and sperm whales. The sperm whale cerebellum is only about 7% of the total brain mass, while the killer whale cerebellum is almost 14%. These results are significant because they contradict claims that the cerebellum scales proportionally with the rest of the brain in all mammals. They also correct the generalization that all cetaceans have enlarged cerebella. We suggest possible reasons for the existence of such a large cerebellar size difference between these two species. Cerebellar function is not fully understood, and comparing the abilities of animals with differently sized cerebella can help uncover functional roles of the cerebellum in humans and animals. Here we show that the large cerebellar difference likely relates to evolutionary history, diving, sensory capability, and ecology. PMID:24852603

  14. 50 CFR 229.37 - False Killer Whale Take Reduction Plan.

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2014 CFR

    2014-10-01

    ... 50 Wildlife and Fisheries 11 2014-10-01 2014-10-01 false False Killer Whale Take Reduction Plan... § 229.37 False Killer Whale Take Reduction Plan. (a) Purpose and scope. The purpose of this section is to implement the False Killer Whale Take Reduction Plan to reduce mortality and serious injury of...

  15. Changes in dive behavior during naval sonar exposure in killer whales, long-finned pilot whales, and sperm whales.

    PubMed

    Sivle, L D; Kvadsheim, P H; Fahlman, A; Lam, F P A; Tyack, P L; Miller, P J O

    2012-01-01

    Anthropogenic underwater sound in the environment might potentially affect the behavior of marine mammals enough to have an impact on their reproduction and survival. Diving behavior of four killer whales (Orcinus orca), seven long-finned pilot whales (Globicephala melas), and four sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) was studied during controlled exposures to naval sonar [low frequency active sonar (LFAS): 1-2 kHz and mid frequency active sonar (MFAS): 6-7 kHz] during three field seasons (2006-2009). Diving behavior was monitored before, during and after sonar exposure using an archival tag placed on the animal with suction cups. The tag recorded the animal's vertical movement, and additional data on horizontal movement and vocalizations were used to determine behavioral modes. Killer whales that were conducting deep dives at sonar onset changed abruptly to shallow diving (ShD) during LFAS, while killer whales conducting deep dives at the onset of MFAS did not alter dive mode. When in ShD mode at sonar onset, killer whales did not change their diving behavior. Pilot and sperm whales performed normal deep dives (NDD) during MFAS exposure. During LFAS exposures, long-finned pilot whales mostly performed fewer deep dives and some sperm whales performed shallower and shorter dives. Acoustic recording data presented previously indicates that deep diving (DD) is associated with feeding. Therefore, the observed changes in dive behavior of the three species could potentially reduce the foraging efficiency of the affected animals. PMID:23087648

  16. Ultrasonic whistles of killer whales (Orcinus orca) recorded in the North Pacific (L).

    PubMed

    Filatova, Olga A; Ford, John K B; Matkin, Craig O; Barrett-Lennard, Lance G; Burdin, Alexander M; Hoyt, Erich

    2012-12-01

    Ultrasonic whistles were previously found in North Atlantic killer whales and were suggested to occur in eastern North Pacific killer whales based on the data from autonomous recorders. In this study ultrasonic whistles were found in the recordings from two encounters with the eastern North Pacific offshore ecotype killer whales and one encounter with the western North Pacific killer whales of unknown ecotype. All ultrasonic whistles were highly stereotyped and all but two had downsweep contours. These results demonstrate that specific sound categories can be shared by killer whales from different ocean basins. PMID:23231094

  17. The relationship between vessel traffic and noise levels received by killer whales (Orcinus orca)

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Houghton, Juliana; Holt, Marla M.; Giles, Deborah A.; Hanson, M. Bradley; Emmons, Candice K.; Hogan, Jeffrey T.; Branch, Trevor A.; Vanblaricom, Glenn R.

    2015-01-01

    Whale watching has become increasingly popular as an ecotourism activity around the globe and is beneficial for environmental education and local economies. Southern Resident killer whales (Orcinus orca) comprise an endangered population that is frequently observed by a large whale watching fleet in the inland waters of Washington state and British Columbia. One of the factors identified as a risk to recovery for the population is the effect of vessels and associated noise. An examination of the effects of vessels and associated noise on whale behavior utilized novel equipment to address limitations of previous studies. Digital acoustic recording tags (DTAGs) measured the noise levels the tagged whales received while laser positioning systems allowed collection of geo-referenced data for tagged whales and all vessels within 1000 m of the tagged whale. The objective of the current study was to compare vessel data and DTAG recordings to relate vessel traffic to the ambient noise received by tagged whales. Two analyses were conducted, one including all recording intervals, and one that excluded intervals when only the research vessel was present. For all data, significant predictors of noise levels were length (inverse relationship), number of propellers, and vessel speed, but only 15% of the variation in noise was explained by this model. When research-vessel-only intervals were excluded, vessel speed was the only significant predictor of noise levels, and explained 42% of the variation. Simple linear regressions (ignoring covariates) found that average vessel speed and number of propellers were the only significant correlates with noise levels. We conclude that vessel speed is the most important predictor of noise levels received by whales in this study. Thus, measures that reduce vessel speed in the vicinity of killer whales would reduce noise exposure in this population.

  18. The Relationship between Vessel Traffic and Noise Levels Received by Killer Whales (Orcinus orca).

    PubMed

    Houghton, Juliana; Holt, Marla M; Giles, Deborah A; Hanson, M Bradley; Emmons, Candice K; Hogan, Jeffrey T; Branch, Trevor A; VanBlaricom, Glenn R

    2015-01-01

    Whale watching has become increasingly popular as an ecotourism activity around the globe and is beneficial for environmental education and local economies. Southern Resident killer whales (Orcinus orca) comprise an endangered population that is frequently observed by a large whale watching fleet in the inland waters of Washington state and British Columbia. One of the factors identified as a risk to recovery for the population is the effect of vessels and associated noise. An examination of the effects of vessels and associated noise on whale behavior utilized novel equipment to address limitations of previous studies. Digital acoustic recording tags (DTAGs) measured the noise levels the tagged whales received while laser positioning systems allowed collection of geo-referenced data for tagged whales and all vessels within 1000 m of the tagged whale. The objective of the current study was to compare vessel data and DTAG recordings to relate vessel traffic to the ambient noise received by tagged whales. Two analyses were conducted, one including all recording intervals, and one that excluded intervals when only the research vessel was present. For all data, significant predictors of noise levels were length (inverse relationship), number of propellers, and vessel speed, but only 15% of the variation in noise was explained by this model. When research-vessel-only intervals were excluded, vessel speed was the only significant predictor of noise levels, and explained 42% of the variation. Simple linear regressions (ignoring covariates) found that average vessel speed and number of propellers were the only significant correlates with noise levels. We conclude that vessel speed is the most important predictor of noise levels received by whales in this study. Thus, measures that reduce vessel speed in the vicinity of killer whales would reduce noise exposure in this population. PMID:26629916

  19. The Relationship between Vessel Traffic and Noise Levels Received by Killer Whales (Orcinus orca)

    PubMed Central

    Houghton, Juliana; Holt, Marla M.; Giles, Deborah A.; Hanson, M. Bradley; Emmons, Candice K.; Hogan, Jeffrey T.; Branch, Trevor A.; VanBlaricom, Glenn R.

    2015-01-01

    Whale watching has become increasingly popular as an ecotourism activity around the globe and is beneficial for environmental education and local economies. Southern Resident killer whales (Orcinus orca) comprise an endangered population that is frequently observed by a large whale watching fleet in the inland waters of Washington state and British Columbia. One of the factors identified as a risk to recovery for the population is the effect of vessels and associated noise. An examination of the effects of vessels and associated noise on whale behavior utilized novel equipment to address limitations of previous studies. Digital acoustic recording tags (DTAGs) measured the noise levels the tagged whales received while laser positioning systems allowed collection of geo-referenced data for tagged whales and all vessels within 1000 m of the tagged whale. The objective of the current study was to compare vessel data and DTAG recordings to relate vessel traffic to the ambient noise received by tagged whales. Two analyses were conducted, one including all recording intervals, and one that excluded intervals when only the research vessel was present. For all data, significant predictors of noise levels were length (inverse relationship), number of propellers, and vessel speed, but only 15% of the variation in noise was explained by this model. When research-vessel-only intervals were excluded, vessel speed was the only significant predictor of noise levels, and explained 42% of the variation. Simple linear regressions (ignoring covariates) found that average vessel speed and number of propellers were the only significant correlates with noise levels. We conclude that vessel speed is the most important predictor of noise levels received by whales in this study. Thus, measures that reduce vessel speed in the vicinity of killer whales would reduce noise exposure in this population. PMID:26629916

  20. Use of chemical tracers in assessing the diet and foraging regions of eastern North Pacific killer whales.

    PubMed

    Krahn, Margaret M; Herman, David P; Matkin, Craig O; Durban, John W; Barrett-Lennard, Lance; Burrows, Douglas G; Dahlheim, Marilyn E; Black, Nancy; LeDuc, Richard G; Wade, Paul R

    2007-03-01

    Top predators in the marine environment integrate chemical signals acquired from their prey that reflect both the species consumed and the regions from which the prey were taken. These chemical tracers-stable isotope ratios of carbon and nitrogen; persistent organic pollutant (POP) concentrations, patterns and ratios; and fatty acid profiles-were measured in blubber biopsy samples from North Pacific killer whales (Orcinus orca) (n=84) and were used to provide further insight into their diet, particularly for the offshore group, about which little dietary information is available. The offshore killer whales were shown to consume prey species that were distinctly different from those of sympatric resident and transient killer whales. In addition, it was confirmed that the offshores forage as far south as California. Thus, these results provide evidence that the offshores belong to a third killer whale ecotype. Resident killer whale populations showed a gradient in stable isotope profiles from west (central Aleutians) to east (Gulf of Alaska) that, in part, can be attributed to a shift from off-shelf to continental shelf-based prey. Finally, stable isotope ratio results, supported by field observations, showed that the diet in spring and summer of eastern Aleutian Island transient killer whales is apparently not composed exclusively of Steller sea lions. PMID:16934324

  1. Whistle sequences in wild killer whales (Orcinus orca).

    PubMed

    Riesch, Rüdiger; Ford, John K B; Thomsen, Frank

    2008-09-01

    Combining different stereotyped vocal signals into specific sequences increases the range of information that can be transferred between individuals. The temporal emission pattern and the behavioral context of vocal sequences have been described in detail for a variety of birds and mammals. Yet, in cetaceans, the study of vocal sequences is just in its infancy. Here, we provide a detailed analysis of sequences of stereotyped whistles in killer whales off Vancouver Island, British Columbia. A total of 1140 whistle transitions in 192 whistle sequences recorded from resident killer whales were analyzed using common spectrographic analysis techniques. In addition to the stereotyped whistles described by Riesch et al., [(2006). "Stability and group specificity of stereotyped whistles in resident killer whales, Orcinus orca, off British Columbia," Anim. Behav. 71, 79-91.] We found a new and rare stereotyped whistle (W7) as well as two whistle elements, which are closely linked to whistle sequences: (1) stammers and (2) bridge elements. Furthermore, the frequency of occurrence of 12 different stereotyped whistle types within the sequences was not randomly distributed and the transition patterns between whistles were also nonrandom. Finally, whistle sequences were closely tied to close-range behavioral interactions (in particular among males). Hence, we conclude that whistle sequences in wild killer whales are complex signal series and propose that they are most likely emitted by single individuals. PMID:19045672

  2. West Nile virus infection in killer whale, Texas, USA, 2007.

    PubMed

    St Leger, Judy; Wu, Guang; Anderson, Mark; Dalton, Les; Nilson, Erika; Wang, David

    2011-08-01

    In 2007, nonsuppurative encephalitis was identified in a killer whale at a Texas, USA, marine park. Panviral DNA microarray of brain tissue suggested West Nile virus (WNV); WNV was confirmed by reverse transcription PCR and sequencing. Immunohistochemistry demonstrated WNV antigen within neurons. WNV should be considered in cases of encephalitis in cetaceans. PMID:21801643

  3. Vocalisations of Killer Whales (Orcinus orca) in the Bremer Canyon, Western Australia.

    PubMed

    Wellard, Rebecca; Erbe, Christine; Fouda, Leila; Blewitt, Michelle

    2015-01-01

    To date, there has been no dedicated study in Australian waters on the acoustics of killer whales. Hence no information has been published on the sounds produced by killer whales from this region. Here we present the first acoustical analysis of recordings collected off the Western Australian coast. Underwater sounds produced by Australian killer whales were recorded during the months of February and March 2014 and 2015 in the Bremer Canyon in Western Australia. Vocalisations recorded included echolocation clicks, burst-pulse sounds and whistles. A total of 28 hours and 29 minutes were recorded and analysed, with 2376 killer whale calls (whistles and burst-pulse sounds) detected. Recordings of poor quality or signal-to-noise ratio were excluded from analysis, resulting in 142 whistles and burst-pulse vocalisations suitable for analysis and categorisation. These were grouped based on their spectrographic features into nine Bremer Canyon (BC) "call types". The frequency of the fundamental contours of all call types ranged from 600 Hz to 29 kHz. Calls ranged from 0.05 to 11.3 seconds in duration. Biosonar clicks were also recorded, but not studied further. Surface behaviours noted during acoustic recordings were categorised as either travelling or social behaviour. A detailed description of the acoustic characteristics is necessary for species acoustic identification and for the development of passive acoustic tools for population monitoring, including assessments of population status, habitat usage, migration patterns, behaviour and acoustic ecology. This study provides the first quantitative assessment and report on the acoustic features of killer whales vocalisations in Australian waters, and presents an opportunity to further investigate this little-known population. PMID:26352429

  4. Vocalisations of Killer Whales (Orcinus orca) in the Bremer Canyon, Western Australia

    PubMed Central

    Wellard, Rebecca; Erbe, Christine; Fouda, Leila; Blewitt, Michelle

    2015-01-01

    To date, there has been no dedicated study in Australian waters on the acoustics of killer whales. Hence no information has been published on the sounds produced by killer whales from this region. Here we present the first acoustical analysis of recordings collected off the Western Australian coast. Underwater sounds produced by Australian killer whales were recorded during the months of February and March 2014 and 2015 in the Bremer Canyon in Western Australia. Vocalisations recorded included echolocation clicks, burst-pulse sounds and whistles. A total of 28 hours and 29 minutes were recorded and analysed, with 2376 killer whale calls (whistles and burst-pulse sounds) detected. Recordings of poor quality or signal-to-noise ratio were excluded from analysis, resulting in 142 whistles and burst-pulse vocalisations suitable for analysis and categorisation. These were grouped based on their spectrographic features into nine Bremer Canyon (BC) “call types”. The frequency of the fundamental contours of all call types ranged from 600 Hz to 29 kHz. Calls ranged from 0.05 to 11.3 seconds in duration. Biosonar clicks were also recorded, but not studied further. Surface behaviours noted during acoustic recordings were categorised as either travelling or social behaviour. A detailed description of the acoustic characteristics is necessary for species acoustic identification and for the development of passive acoustic tools for population monitoring, including assessments of population status, habitat usage, migration patterns, behaviour and acoustic ecology. This study provides the first quantitative assessment and report on the acoustic features of killer whales vocalisations in Australian waters, and presents an opportunity to further investigate this little-known population. PMID:26352429

  5. Longitudinal evaluation of leukocyte transcripts in killer whales (Orcinus Orca)

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Sitt, Tatjana; Bowen, Lizabeth; Lee, Chia-Shan; Blanchard, Myra; McBain, James; Dold, Christopher; Stott, Jeffrey L.

    2016-01-01

    Early identification of illness and/or presence of environmental and/or social stressors in free-ranging and domestic cetaceans is a priority for marine mammal health care professionals. Incorporation of leukocyte gene transcript analysis into the diagnostic tool kit has the potential to augment classical diagnostics based upon ease of sample storage and shipment, inducible nature and well-defined roles of transcription and associated downstream actions. Development of biomarkers that could serve to identify “insults” and potentially differentiate disease etiology would be of great diagnostic value. To this end, a modest number of peripheral blood leukocyte gene transcripts were selected for application to a domestic killer whale population with a focus on broad representation of inducible immunologically relevant genes. Normalized leukocyte transcript values, longitudinally acquired from 232 blood samples derived from 26 clinically healthy whales, were not visibly influenced temporally nor by sex or the specific Park in which they resided. Stability in leukocyte transcript number during periods of health enhances their potential use in diagnostics through identification of outliers. Transcript levels of two cytokine genes, IL-4 and IL-17, were highly variable within the group as compared to the other transcripts. IL-4 transcripts were typically absent. Analysis of transcript levels on the other genes of interest, on an individual animal basis, identified more outliers than were visible when analyzed in the context of the entire population. The majority of outliers (9 samples) were low, though elevated transcripts were identified for IL-17 from 2 animals and one each for Cox-2 and IL-10. The low number of outliers was not unexpected as sample selection was intentionally directed towards animals that were clinically healthy at the time of collection. Outliers may reflect animals experiencing subclinical disease that is transient and self-limiting. The

  6. Longitudinal evaluation of leukocyte transcripts in killer whales (Orcinus Orca).

    PubMed

    Sitt, Tatjana; Bowen, Lizabeth; Lee, Chia-Shan; Blanchard, Myra T; McBain, James; Dold, Christopher; Stott, Jeffrey L

    2016-07-01

    Early identification of illness and/or presence of environmental and/or social stressors in free-ranging and domestic cetaceans is a priority for marine mammal health care professionals. Incorporation of leukocyte gene transcript analysis into the diagnostic tool kit has the potential to augment classical diagnostics based upon ease of sample storage and shipment, inducible nature and well-defined roles of transcription and associated downstream actions. Development of biomarkers that could serve to identify "insults" and potentially differentiate disease etiology would be of great diagnostic value. To this end, a modest number of peripheral blood leukocyte gene transcripts were selected for application to a domestic killer whale population with a focus on broad representation of inducible immunologically relevant genes. Normalized leukocyte transcript values, longitudinally acquired from 232 blood samples derived from 26 clinically healthy whales, were not visibly influenced temporally nor by sex or the specific Park in which they resided. Stability in leukocyte transcript number during periods of health enhances their potential use in diagnostics through identification of outliers. Transcript levels of two cytokine genes, IL-4 and IL-17, were highly variable within the group as compared to the other transcripts. IL-4 transcripts were typically absent. Analysis of transcript levels on the other genes of interest, on an individual animal basis, identified more outliers than were visible when analyzed in the context of the entire population. The majority of outliers (9 samples) were low, though elevated transcripts were identified for IL-17 from 2 animals and one each for Cox-2 and IL-10. The low number of outliers was not unexpected as sample selection was intentionally directed towards animals that were clinically healthy at the time of collection. Outliers may reflect animals experiencing subclinical disease that is transient and self-limiting. The immunologic

  7. Pilot whales attracted to killer whale sounds: acoustically-mediated interspecific interactions in cetaceans.

    PubMed

    Curé, Charlotte; Antunes, Ricardo; Samarra, Filipa; Alves, Ana Catarina; Visser, Fleur; Kvadsheim, Petter H; Miller, Patrick J O

    2012-01-01

    In cetaceans' communities, interactions between individuals of different species are often observed in the wild. Yet, due to methodological and technical challenges very little is known about the mediation of these interactions and their effect on cetaceans' behavior. Killer whales (Orcinus orca) are a highly vocal species and can be both food competitors and potential predators of many other cetaceans. Thus, the interception of their vocalizations by unintended cetacean receivers may be particularly important in mediating interspecific interactions. To address this hypothesis, we conducted playbacks of killer whale vocalizations recorded during herring-feeding activity to free-ranging long-finned pilot whales (Globicephala melas). Using a multi-sensor tag, we were able to track the whales and to monitor changes of their movements and social behavior in response to the playbacks. We demonstrated that the playback of killer whale sounds to pilot whales induced a clear increase in group size and a strong attraction of the animals towards the sound source. These findings provide the first experimental evidence that the interception of heterospecific vocalizations can mediate interactions between different cetacean species in previously unrecognized ways. PMID:23300613

  8. Pilot Whales Attracted to Killer Whale Sounds: Acoustically-Mediated Interspecific Interactions in Cetaceans

    PubMed Central

    Curé, Charlotte; Antunes, Ricardo; Samarra, Filipa; Alves, Ana Catarina; Visser, Fleur; Kvadsheim, Petter H.; Miller, Patrick J. O.

    2012-01-01

    In cetaceans’ communities, interactions between individuals of different species are often observed in the wild. Yet, due to methodological and technical challenges very little is known about the mediation of these interactions and their effect on cetaceans’ behavior. Killer whales (Orcinus orca) are a highly vocal species and can be both food competitors and potential predators of many other cetaceans. Thus, the interception of their vocalizations by unintended cetacean receivers may be particularly important in mediating interspecific interactions. To address this hypothesis, we conducted playbacks of killer whale vocalizations recorded during herring-feeding activity to free-ranging long-finned pilot whales (Globicephala melas). Using a multi-sensor tag, we were able to track the whales and to monitor changes of their movements and social behavior in response to the playbacks. We demonstrated that the playback of killer whale sounds to pilot whales induced a clear increase in group size and a strong attraction of the animals towards the sound source. These findings provide the first experimental evidence that the interception of heterospecific vocalizations can mediate interactions between different cetacean species in previously unrecognized ways. PMID:23300613

  9. Severity of killer whale behavioral responses to ship noise: a dose-response study.

    PubMed

    Williams, Rob; Erbe, Christine; Ashe, Erin; Beerman, Amber; Smith, Jodi

    2014-02-15

    Critical habitats of at-risk populations of northeast Pacific "resident" killer whales can be heavily trafficked by large ships, with transits occurring on average once every hour in busy shipping lanes. We modeled behavioral responses of killer whales to ship transits during 35 "natural experiments" as a dose-response function of estimated received noise levels in both broadband and audiogram-weighted terms. Interpreting effects is contingent on a subjective and seemingly arbitrary decision about severity threshold indicating a response. Subtle responses were observed around broadband received levels of 130 dB re 1 μPa (rms); more severe responses are hypothesized to occur at received levels beyond 150 dB re 1 μPa, where our study lacked data. Avoidance responses are expected to carry minor energetic costs in terms of increased energy expenditure, but future research must assess the potential for reduced prey acquisition, and potential population consequences, under these noise levels. PMID:24373666

  10. Variation in call pitch among killer whale ecotypes.

    PubMed

    Foote, Andrew D; Nystuen, Jeffrey A

    2008-03-01

    Vocal structure can vary between populations due to variation in ecology-dependent selection pressures, such as masking by background noise and the presence of eavesdroppers. Signalers can overcome these obstacles to effective communication by avoiding frequencies that overlap with background noise or the audible range of eavesdroppers. In the Northeastern Pacific three "ecotypes" of killer whale coexist in sympatry, but differ from one another in their diet and habitat use. The minimum frequency (F(min)) and the frequency containing the peak energy between 0 and 10 kHz (F(peak)) of a random sample of calls produced by a population of each ecotype was measured. The offshore ecotype produced calls with a significantly higher F(min) than the other ecotypes, which could be a strategy to avoid masking by low frequency chronic bandlimited wind noise found in the offshore environment. The resident ecotype produced calls with a significantly higher F(min) and F(peak) than the transient ecotype. This could be to reduce detection by their salmonid prey, which has a narrow band, low frequency auditory range. PMID:18345862

  11. Experimental evidence for action imitation in killer whales (Orcinus orca).

    PubMed

    Abramson, José Z; Hernández-Lloreda, Victoria; Call, Josep; Colmenares, Fernando

    2013-01-01

    Comparative experimental studies of imitative learning have focused mainly on primates and birds. However, cetaceans are promising candidates to display imitative learning as they have evolved in socioecological settings that have selected for large brains, complex sociality, and coordinated predatory tactics. Here we tested imitative learning in killer whales, Orcinus orca. We used a 'do-as-other-does' paradigm in which 3 subjects witnessed a conspecific demonstrator's performance that included 15 familiar and 4 novel behaviours. The three subjects (1) learned the copy command signal 'Do that' very quickly, that is, 20 trials on average; (2) copied 100 % of the demonstrator's familiar and novel actions; (3) achieved full matches in the first attempt for 8-13 familiar behaviours (out of 15) and for the 2 novel behaviours (out of 2) in one subject; and (4) took no longer than 8 trials to accurately copy any familiar behaviour, and no longer than 16 trials to copy any novel behaviour. This study provides experimental evidence for body imitation, including production imitation, in killer whales that is comparable to that observed in dolphins tested under similar conditions. These findings suggest that imitative learning may underpin some of the group-specific traditions reported in killer whales in the field. PMID:22875725

  12. Divergence of a stereotyped call in northern resident killer whales.

    PubMed

    Grebner, Dawn M; Parks, Susan E; Bradley, David L; Miksis-Olds, Jennifer L; Capone, Dean E; Ford, John K B

    2011-02-01

    Northern resident killer whale pods (Orcinus orca) have distinctive stereotyped pulsed call repertoires that can be used to distinguish groups acoustically. Repertoires are generally stable, with the same call types comprising the repertoire of a given pod over a period of years to decades. Previous studies have shown that some discrete pulsed calls can be subdivided into variants or subtypes. This study suggests that new stereotyped calls may result from the gradual modification of existing call types through subtypes. Vocalizations of individuals and small groups of killer whales were collected using a bottom-mounted hydrophone array in Johnstone Strait, British Columbia in 2006 and 2007. Discriminant analysis of slope variations of a predominant call type, N4, revealed the presence of four distinct call subtypes. Similar to previous studies, there was a divergence of the N4 call between members of different matrilines of the same pod. However, this study reveals that individual killer whales produced multiple subtypes of the N4 call, indicating that divergence in the N4 call is not the result of individual differences, but rather may indicate the gradual evolution of a new stereotyped call. PMID:21361462

  13. Offshore killer whale tracking using multiple hydrophone arrays.

    PubMed

    Gassmann, Martin; Henderson, E Elizabeth; Wiggins, Sean M; Roch, Marie A; Hildebrand, John A

    2013-11-01

    To study delphinid near surface movements and behavior, two L-shaped hydrophone arrays and one vertical hydrophone line array were deployed at shallow depths (<125 m) from the floating instrument platform R/P FLIP, moored northwest of San Clemente Island in the Southern California Bight. A three-dimensional propagation-model based passive acoustic tracking method was developed and used to track a group of five offshore killer whales (Orcinus orca) using their emitted clicks. In addition, killer whale pulsed calls and high-frequency modulated (HFM) signals were localized using other standard techniques. Based on these tracks sound source levels for the killer whales were estimated. The peak to peak source levels for echolocation clicks vary between 170-205 dB re 1 μPa @ 1 m, for HFM calls between 185-193 dB re 1 μPa @ 1 m, and for pulsed calls between 146-158 dB re 1 μPa @ 1 m. PMID:24180762

  14. Echolocation signals of foraging killer whales (Orcinus orca)

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Au, Whitlow W. L.; Ford, John K. B.; Allman, Kelly A.

    2002-05-01

    Fish eating resident killer whales that frequent the coastal waters of Vancouver Island, Canada have a strong preference for chinook salmon. The whales in Johnston Strait often forage along the steep cliffs that extend into the water, echolocating their prey. Echolocation signals were measured with a four hydrophone symmetrical star array and the signals were simultaneous digitized at a sample rate of 500 kHz using a lunch-box PC. A portable VCR recorded the images from an underwater camera located close to the array center. Only signals emanated from close to the beam axis (1185 total) were chosen for a detailed analysis. Killer whales project very broad band echolocation signals (Q 1.3 to 1.5) that tend to have a bimodal frequency structure. Ninety seven percent of the signals had center frequencies between 45 and 80 kHz with a band-width between 35 and 50 kHz. The peak-to-peak source level of the echolocation signal decreased as a function of the one way transmission loss to the array. Source levels varied between 200 and 225 dB re 1 μPa. Using a model of target strength for chinook salmons, the echo levels from the echolocation signals are estimated for different ranges between whale and salmon.

  15. Cross-cultural and cross-ecotype production of a killer whale `excitement' call suggests universality

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Rehn, Nicola; Filatova, Olga A.; Durban, John W.; Foote, Andrew D.

    2011-01-01

    Facial and vocal expressions of emotion have been found in a number of social mammal species and are thought to have evolved to aid social communication. There has been much debate about whether such signals are culturally inherited or are truly biologically innate. Evidence for the innateness of such signals can come from cross-cultural studies. Previous studies have identified a vocalisation (the V4 or `excitement' call) associated with high arousal behaviours in a population of killer whales in British Columbia, Canada. In this study, we compared recordings from three different socially and reproductively isolated ecotypes of killer whales, including five vocal clans of one ecotype, each clan having discrete culturally transmitted vocal traditions. The V4 call was found in recordings of each ecotype and each vocal clan. Nine independent observers reproduced our classification of the V4 call from each population with high inter-observer agreement. Our results suggest the V4 call may be universal in Pacific killer whale populations and that transmission of this call is independent of cultural tradition or ecotype. We argue that such universality is more consistent with an innate vocalisation than one acquired through social learning and may be linked to its apparent function of motivational expression.

  16. Killer Whale (Orcinus orca) Deaths in Prince William Sound, Alaska, 1985-1990.

    PubMed

    Fraker, Mark A

    2013-01-01

    During 1985-1990, two groups of killer whales in Prince William Sound, Alaska, experienced unusually high rates of mortality, while seven others did not. Those affected were AB pod, part of the southern Alaska population of resident (fish-eating) killer whales, and the AT1 transient (marine mammal-eating) group, a very small, reproductively isolated population that last reproduced in 1984. In 1985-1986, several AB pod members were shot by fishermen defending their catch from depredation, which explains some of the deaths. Understanding the other deaths is complicated by the Exxon Valdez oil spill (March 1989) and uncertainties about the causes and times of the deaths. For AB pod, possible factors involved in the post-spill mortalities are delayed effects of bullet wounds, continued shooting, oil exposure, and consequences of being orphaned. For the AT1 group, possible factors are oil exposure, small population size, old age, and high-contaminant burdens. An analysis of possible effects of inhalation of volatile organic compounds, contact with the oil slick, and ingestion of oil with water or prey did not reveal route(s) of exposure that could explain the mortalities. The cause(s) of the killer whale deaths recorded following the oil spill remain uncertain. PMID:23335844

  17. Killer Whale (Orcinus orca) Deaths in Prince William Sound, Alaska, 1985–1990

    PubMed Central

    Fraker, Mark A.

    2013-01-01

    During 1985–1990, two groups of killer whales in Prince William Sound, Alaska, experienced unusually high rates of mortality, while seven others did not. Those affected were AB pod, part of the southern Alaska population of resident (fish-eating) killer whales, and the AT1 transient (marine mammal–eating) group, a very small, reproductively isolated population that last reproduced in 1984. In 1985–1986, several AB pod members were shot by fishermen defending their catch from depredation, which explains some of the deaths. Understanding the other deaths is complicated by the Exxon Valdez oil spill (March 1989) and uncertainties about the causes and times of the deaths. For AB pod, possible factors involved in the post-spill mortalities are delayed effects of bullet wounds, continued shooting, oil exposure, and consequences of being orphaned. For the AT1 group, possible factors are oil exposure, small population size, old age, and high-contaminant burdens. An analysis of possible effects of inhalation of volatile organic compounds, contact with the oil slick, and ingestion of oil with water or prey did not reveal route(s) of exposure that could explain the mortalities. The cause(s) of the killer whale deaths recorded following the oil spill remain uncertain. PMID:23335844

  18. High-frequency modulated signals of killer whales (Orcinus orca) in the North Pacific.

    PubMed

    Simonis, Anne E; Baumann-Pickering, Simone; Oleson, Erin; Melcón, Mariana L; Gassmann, Martin; Wiggins, Sean M; Hildebrand, John A

    2012-04-01

    Killer whales in the North Pacific, similar to Atlantic populations, produce high-frequency modulated signals, based on acoustic recordings from ship-based hydrophone arrays and autonomous recorders at multiple locations. The median peak frequency of these signals ranged from 19.6-36.1 kHz and median duration ranged from 50-163 ms. Source levels were 185-193 dB peak-to-peak re: 1 μPa at 1 m. These uniform, repetitive, down-swept signals are similar to bat echolocation signals and possibly could have echolocation functionality. A large geographic range of occurrence suggests that different killer whale ecotypes may utilize these signals. PMID:22502484

  19. Killer whales (Orcinus orca) face protracted health risks associated with lifetime exposure to PCBs.

    PubMed

    Hickie, Brendan E; Ross, Peter S; Macdonald, Robie W; Ford, John K B

    2007-09-15

    Polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) concentrations declined rapidly in environmental compartments and most biota following implementation of regulations in the 1970s. However, the metabolic recalcitrance of PCBs may delay responses to such declines in large, long-lived species, such as the endangered and highly PCB-contaminated resident killer whales (Orcinus orca) of the Northeastern Pacific Ocean. To investigate the influence of life history on PCB-related health risks, we developed models to estimate PCB concentrations in killer whales during the period from 1930 forward to 2030, both within a lifetime (approximately 50 years) and across generations, and then evaluated these in the context of health effects thresholds established for marine mammals. Modeled PCB concentrations in killer whales responded slowly to changes in loadings to the environment as evidenced by slower accumulation and lower magnitude increases in PCB concentrations relative to prey, and a delayed decline that was particularly evident in adult males. Since PCBs attained peak levels well above the effects threshold (17 mg/kg lipid) in approximately 1969, estimated concentrations in both the northern and the more contaminated southern resident populations have declined gradually. Projections suggest that the northern resident population could largely fall below the threshold concentration by 2030 while the endangered southern residents may not do so until at least 2063. Long-lived aquatic mammals are therefore not protected from PCBs by current dietary residue guidelines. PMID:17948816

  20. 50 CFR 226.206 - Critical habitat for the Southern Resident killer whale (Orcinus orca).

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2011 CFR

    2011-10-01

    ... 50 Wildlife and Fisheries 9 2011-10-01 2011-10-01 false Critical habitat for the Southern Resident... CRITICAL HABITAT § 226.206 Critical habitat for the Southern Resident killer whale (Orcinus orca). Critical habitat is designated for the Southern Resident killer whale as described in this section. The...

  1. 50 CFR 226.206 - Critical habitat for the Southern Resident killer whale (Orcinus orca).

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2010 CFR

    2010-10-01

    ... 50 Wildlife and Fisheries 7 2010-10-01 2010-10-01 false Critical habitat for the Southern Resident... CRITICAL HABITAT § 226.206 Critical habitat for the Southern Resident killer whale (Orcinus orca). Critical habitat is designated for the Southern Resident killer whale as described in this section. The...

  2. 50 CFR 226.206 - Critical habitat for the Southern Resident killer whale (Orcinus orca).

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2012 CFR

    2012-10-01

    ... 50 Wildlife and Fisheries 10 2012-10-01 2012-10-01 false Critical habitat for the Southern... DESIGNATED CRITICAL HABITAT § 226.206 Critical habitat for the Southern Resident killer whale (Orcinus orca). Critical habitat is designated for the Southern Resident killer whale as described in this section....

  3. 50 CFR 226.206 - Critical habitat for the Southern Resident killer whale (Orcinus orca).

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2014 CFR

    2014-10-01

    ... 50 Wildlife and Fisheries 10 2014-10-01 2014-10-01 false Critical habitat for the Southern... DESIGNATED CRITICAL HABITAT § 226.206 Critical habitat for the Southern Resident killer whale (Orcinus orca). Critical habitat is designated for the Southern Resident killer whale as described in this section....

  4. Speaking up: Killer whales (Orcinus orca) increase their call amplitude in response to vessel noise.

    PubMed

    Holt, Marla M; Noren, Dawn P; Veirs, Val; Emmons, Candice K; Veirs, Scott

    2009-01-01

    This study investigated the effects of anthropogenic sound exposure on the vocal behavior of free-ranging killer whales. Endangered Southern Resident killer whales inhabit areas including the urban coastal waters of Puget Sound near Seattle, WA, where anthropogenic sounds are ubiquitous, particularly those from motorized vessels. A calibrated recording system was used to measure killer whale call source levels and background noise levels (1-40 kHz). Results show that whales increased their call amplitude by 1 dB for every 1 dB increase in background noise levels. Furthermore, nearby vessel counts were positively correlated with these observed background noise levels. PMID:19173379

  5. Disseminated mycosis in a killer whale (Orcinus orca).

    PubMed

    Abdo, Walied; Kawachi, Takeshi; Sakai, Hiroki; Fukushi, Hideto; Kano, Rui; Shibahara, Tomoyuki; Shirouzu, Hiroshi; Kakizoe, Yuko; Tuji, Hajime; Yanai, Tokuma

    2012-01-01

    Hematological findings in a female killer whale (Orcinus orca) undergoing rehabilitation after sudden severe anorexia revealed continuing increases in serum lactate dehydrogenase and aspartate aminotransferase activities as well as fibrinogen concentration. Serologic evidence of herpesvirus infection and skin vesicles were detected 2 weeks into the treatment regimen of antibiotics and corticosteroids. The whale showed signs of improvement after treatment with anti-herpesvirus drugs, but sudden severe anorexia reappeared, along with marked elevation of fibrinogen concentration that continued until the death. Postmortem examination revealed multiple light tan foci of necrosis in the skeletal and cardiac muscles, and lung consolidation. Microscopic findings indicated disseminated fungal granulomas in the skeletal and cardiac muscles, as well as myocarditis, mycotic embolic thromboarteritis of cardiac blood vessels, and bronchopneumonia with numerous typical Aspergillus-like fungi. Mucor-like structures in granulomas in the heart and skeletal muscle and Aspergillus-like fungi in the lungs were identified using periodic acid-Schiff, Gomori methenamine silver stain, and immunohistochemistry. The present case involves dual infection with Mucor and Aspergillus species in a killer whale with concurrent herpesvirus. PMID:22362957

  6. An agent-based model of dialect evolution in killer whales.

    PubMed

    Filatova, Olga A; Miller, Patrick J O

    2015-05-21

    The killer whale is one of the few animal species with vocal dialects that arise from socially learned group-specific call repertoires. We describe a new agent-based model of killer whale populations and test a set of vocal-learning rules to assess which mechanisms may lead to the formation of dialect groupings observed in the wild. We tested a null model with genetic transmission and no learning, and ten models with learning rules that differ by template source (mother or matriline), variation type (random errors or innovations) and type of call change (no divergence from kin vs. divergence from kin). The null model without vocal learning did not produce the pattern of group-specific call repertoires we observe in nature. Learning from either mother alone or the entire matriline with calls changing by random errors produced a graded distribution of the call phenotype, without the discrete call types observed in nature. Introducing occasional innovation or random error proportional to matriline variance yielded more or less discrete and stable call types. A tendency to diverge from the calls of related matrilines provided fast divergence of loose call clusters. A pattern resembling the dialect diversity observed in the wild arose only when rules were applied in combinations and similar outputs could arise from different learning rules and their combinations. Our results emphasize the lack of information on quantitative features of wild killer whale dialects and reveal a set of testable questions that can draw insights into the cultural evolution of killer whale dialects. PMID:25817037

  7. 75 FR 17377 - Endangered and Threatened Species; Initiation of 5-Year Review for Southern Resident Killer Whales

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2010-04-06

    ... Southern Resident killer whale distinct population segment (DPS) currently listed as endangered (70 FR... in November 2006 (71 FR 69054) and includes 2,560 square miles (6,630 sq km) of marine habitat in... final Recovery Plan was released in January 2008 (73 FR 4176), and contains detailed information...

  8. A false killer whale adjusts its hearing when it echolocates.

    PubMed

    Nachtigall, Paul E; Supin, Alexander Y

    2008-06-01

    The use of auditory evoked potential (AEP) measurements has added considerably to knowledge of the hearing mechanisms of marine mammals. We have recently measured the hearing of a stranded infant Risso's dolphin, the audiograms of white-beaked dolphins temporarily caught and released, and the hearing of anaesthetized polar bears. Most small toothed whales echolocate and hear very high frequency sounds underwater. While much has previously been learned about the echolocation performance and characteristics of the outgoing signals of echolocating dolphins and small whales, the hearing processes occurring while these animals actively echolocate have not previously been examined. Working with a well-trained echolocating false killer whale (Pseudorca crassidens) wearing latex surface suction cup electrodes, we have measured echolocation hearing AEPs in response to outgoing echolocation clicks, returning echoes, and comparable simulated whale clicks and echoes in a variety of situations. We have found that: (1) the whale may hear her loud outgoing clicks and much quieter returning echoes at comparable levels, (2) the whale has protective mechanisms that dampen the intensity of her outgoing signals - she hears her outgoing signals at a level about 40 dB lower than similar signals presented directly in front of her, (3) when echo return levels are lowered either by making the targets smaller or by placing the targets farther away - without changing the levels of her outgoing signals - the hearing of these echoes remains at almost the same level, (4) if targets are made much smaller and harder to echolocate, the animal will modify what she hears of her outgoing signal - as if to heighten overall hearing sensitivity to keep the echo level hearable, (5) the animal has an active 'automatic gain control' mechanism in her hearing based on both forward masking that balances outgoing pulse intensity and time between pulse and echo, and active hearing control. Overall, hearing

  9. Differences in acoustic features of vocalizations produced by killer whales cross-socialized with bottlenose dolphins.

    PubMed

    Musser, Whitney B; Bowles, Ann E; Grebner, Dawn M; Crance, Jessica L

    2014-10-01

    Limited previous evidence suggests that killer whales (Orcinus orca) are capable of vocal production learning. However, vocal contextual learning has not been studied, nor the factors promoting learning. Vocalizations were collected from three killer whales with a history of exposure to bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) and compared with data from seven killer whales held with conspecifics and nine bottlenose dolphins. The three whales' repertoires were distinguishable by a higher proportion of click trains and whistles. Time-domain features of click trains were intermediate between those of whales held with conspecifics and dolphins. These differences provided evidence for contextual learning. One killer whale spontaneously learned to produce artificial chirps taught to dolphins; acoustic features fell within the range of inter-individual differences among the dolphins. This whale also produced whistles similar to a stereotyped whistle produced by one dolphin. Thus, results provide further support for vocal production learning and show that killer whales are capable of contextual learning. That killer whales produce similar repertoires when associated with another species suggests substantial vocal plasticity and motivation for vocal conformity with social associates. PMID:25324098

  10. Operational Performance Analysis of Passive Acoustic Monitoring for Killer Whales

    SciTech Connect

    Matzner, Shari; Fu, Tao; Ren, Huiying; Deng, Zhiqun; Sun, Yannan; Carlson, Thomas J.

    2011-09-30

    For the planned tidal turbine site in Puget Sound, WA, the main concern is to protect Southern Resident Killer Whales (SRKW) due to their Endangered Species Act status. A passive acoustic monitoring system is proposed because the whales emit vocalizations that can be detected by a passive system. The algorithm for detection is implemented in two stages. The first stage is an energy detector designed to detect candidate signals. The second stage is a spectral classifier that is designed to reduce false alarms. The evaluation presented here of the detection algorithm incorporates behavioral models of the species of interest, environmental models of noise levels and potential false alarm sources to provide a realistic characterization of expected operational performance.

  11. PCB-associated changes in mRNA expression in killer whales (Orcinus orca) from the NE Pacific Ocean.

    PubMed

    Buckman, Andrea H; Veldhoen, Nik; Ellis, Graeme; Ford, John K B; Helbing, Caren C; Ross, Peter S

    2011-12-01

    Killer whales in the NE Pacific Ocean are among the world's most PCB-contaminated marine mammals, raising concerns about implications for their health. Sixteen health-related killer whale mRNA transcripts were analyzed in blubber biopsies collected from 35 free-ranging killer whales in British Columbia using real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction. We observed PCB-related increases in the expression of five gene targets, including the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR; r(2) = 0.83; p < 0.001), thyroid hormone α receptor (TRα; r(2) = 0.64; p < 0.001), estrogen α receptor (ERα; r(2) = 0.70; p < 0.001), interleukin 10 (IL-10; r(2) = 0.74 and 0.68, males and females, respectively; p < 0.001), and metallothionein 1 (MT1; r(2) = 0.58; p < 0.001). Best-fit models indicated that population (dietary preference), age, and sex were not confounding factors, except for IL-10, where males differed from females. While the population-level consequences are unclear, the PCB-associated alterations in mRNA abundance of such pivotal end points provide compelling evidence of adverse physiological effects of persistent environmental contaminants in these endangered killer whales. PMID:21985468

  12. Stable isotopes of captive cetaceans (killer whales and bottlenose dolphins).

    PubMed

    Caut, Stéphane; Laran, Sophie; Garcia-Hartmann, Emmanuel; Das, Krishna

    2011-02-15

    There is currently a great deal of interest in using stable isotope methods to investigate diet, trophic level and migration in wild cetaceans. In order to correctly interpret the results stemming from these methods, it is crucial to understand how diet isotopic values are reflected in consumer tissues. In this study, we investigated patterns of isotopic discrimination between diet and blood constituents of two species of cetaceans (killer whale, Orcinus orca, and bottlenose dolphin, Tursiops truncatus) fed controlled diets over 308 and 312 days, respectively. Diet discrimination factors (Δ; mean ± s.d.) for plasma were estimated to Δ(13)C=2.3±0.6‰ and Δ(15)N=1.8±0.3‰, respectively, for both species and to Δ(13)C=2.7±0.3‰ and Δ(15)N=0.5±0.1‰ for red blood cells. Delipidation did not have a significant effect on carbon and nitrogen isotopic values of blood constituents, confirming that cetacean blood does not serve as a reservoir of lipids. In contrast, carbon isotopic values were higher in delipidated samples of blubber, liver and muscle from killer whales. The potential for conflict between fisheries and cetaceans has heightened the need for trophic information about these taxa. These results provide the first published stable isotope incorporation data for cetaceans, which are essential if conclusions are to be drawn on issues concerning trophic structures, carbon sources and diet reconstruction. PMID:21270301

  13. Killer whales and marine mammal trends in the North Pacific - A re-examination of evidence for sequential megafauna collapse and the prey-switching hypothesis

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Wade, P.R.; Burkanov, V.N.; Dahlheim, M.E.; Friday, N.A.; Fritz, L.W.; Loughlin, T.R.; Mizroch, S.A.; Muto, M.M.; Rice, D.W.; Barrett-Lennard, L. G.; Black, N.A.; Burdin, A.M.; Calambokidis, J.; Cerchio, S.; Ford, J.K.B.; Jacobsen, J.K.; Matkin, C.O.; Matkin, D.R.; Mehta, A.V.; Small, R.J.; Straley, J.M.; McCluskey, S.M.; VanBlaricom, G.R.; Clapham, P.J.

    2007-01-01

    Springer et al. (2003) contend that sequential declines occurred in North Pacific populations of harbor and fur seals, Steller sea lions, and sea otters. They hypothesize that these were due to increased predation by killer whales, when industrial whaling's removal of large whales as a supposed primary food source precipitated a prey switch. Using a regional approach, we reexamined whale catch data, killer whale predation observations, and the current biomass and trends of potential prey, and found little support for the prey-switching hypothesis. Large whale biomass in the Bering Sea did not decline as much as suggested by Springer et al., and much of the reduction occurred 50-100 yr ago, well before the declines of pinnipeds and sea otters began; thus, the need to switch prey starting in the 1970s is doubtful. With the sole exception that the sea otter decline followed the decline of pinnipeds, the reported declines were not in fact sequential. Given this, it is unlikely that a sequential megafaunal collapse from whales to sea otters occurred. The spatial and temporal patterns of pinniped and sea otter population trends are more complex than Springer et al. suggest, and are often inconsistent with their hypothesis. Populations remained stable or increased in many areas, despite extensive historical whaling and high killer whale abundance. Furthermore, observed killer whale predation has largely involved pinnipeds and small cetaceans; there is little evidence that large whales were ever a major prey item in high latitudes. Small cetaceans (ignored by Springer et al.) were likely abundant throughout the period. Overall, we suggest that the Springer et al. hypothesis represents a misleading and simplistic view of events and trophic relationships within this complex marine ecosystem. ?? 2007 by the Society for Marine Mammalogy.

  14. Effects of age, sex and reproductive status on persistent organic pollutant concentrations in "Southern Resident" killer whales.

    PubMed

    Krahn, Margaret M; Hanson, M Bradley; Schorr, Gregory S; Emmons, Candice K; Burrows, Douglas G; Bolton, Jennie L; Baird, Robin W; Ylitalo, Gina M

    2009-10-01

    "Southern Resident" killer whales (Orcinus orca) that comprise three fish-eating "pods" (J, K and L) were listed as "endangered" in the US and Canada following a 20% population decline between 1996 and 2001. Blubber biopsy samples from Southern Resident juveniles had statistically higher concentrations of certain persistent organic pollutants than were found for adults. Most Southern Resident killer whales, including the four juveniles, exceeded the health-effects threshold for total PCBs in marine mammal blubber. Maternal transfer of contaminants to the juveniles during rapid development of their biological systems may put these young whales at greater risk than adults for adverse health effects (e.g., immune and endocrine system dysfunction). Pollutant ratios and field observations established that two of the pods (K- and L-pod) travel to California to forage. Nitrogen stable isotope values, supported by field observations, indicated possible changes in the diet of L-pod over the last decade. PMID:19541329

  15. Target Strength of Southern Resident Killer Whales (Orcinus orca): Measurement and Modeling

    SciTech Connect

    Xu, Jinshan; Deng, Zhiqun; Carlson, Thomas J.; Moore, Brian

    2012-04-04

    A major criterion for tidal power licensing in Washington’s Puget Sound is the management of the risk of injury to killer whales due to collision with moving turbine blades. An active monitoring system is being proposed for killer whale detection, tracking, and alerting that links to and triggers temporary turbine shutdown when there is risk of collision. Target strength (TS) modeling of the killer whale is critical to the design and application of any active monitoring system. A 1996 study performed a high-resolution measurement of acoustic reflectivity as a function of frequency of a female bottlenose dolphin (2.2 m length) at broadside aspect and TS as a function of incident angle at 67 kHz frequency. Assuming that killer whales share similar morphology structure with the bottlenose dolphin, we extrapolated the TS of an adult killer whale 7.5 m in length at 67 kHz frequency with -8 dB at broadside aspect and -28 dB at tail side. The backscattering data from three Southern Resident killer whales were analyzed to obtain the TS measurement. These data were collected at Lime Kiln State Park using a split-beam system deployed from a boat. The TS of the killer whale at higher frequency (200 kHz) was estimated based on a three-layer model for plane wave reflection from the lung of the whale. The TS data of killer whales were in good agreement with our model. In this paper, we also discuss and explain possible causes for measurement estimation error.

  16. The world's smallest whale population?

    PubMed

    Wade, Paul R; Kennedy, Amy; LeDuc, Rick; Barlow, Jay; Carretta, Jim; Shelden, Kim; Perryman, Wayne; Pitman, Robert; Robertson, Kelly; Rone, Brenda; Salinas, Juan Carlos; Zerbini, Alexandre; Brownell, Robert L; Clapham, Phillip J

    2011-02-23

    The North Pacific right whale (Eubalaena japonica) was heavily exploited by both nineteenth century whaling and recent (1960s) illegal Soviet catches. Today, the species remains extremely rare especially in the eastern North Pacific. Here, we use photographic and genotype data to calculate the first mark-recapture estimates of abundance for right whales in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands. The estimates were very similar: photographic = 31 (95% CL 23-54), genotyping = 28 (95% CL 24-42). We also estimated the population contains eight females (95% CL 7-18) and 20 males (95% CL 17-37). Although these estimates may relate to a Bering Sea subpopulation, other data suggest that the total eastern North Pacific population is unlikely to be much larger. Its precarious status today-the world's smallest whale population for which an abundance estimate exists-is a direct consequence of uncontrolled and illegal whaling, and highlights the past failure of international management to prevent such abuses. PMID:20591853

  17. The world's smallest whale population?

    PubMed Central

    Wade, Paul R.; Kennedy, Amy; LeDuc, Rick; Barlow, Jay; Carretta, Jim; Shelden, Kim; Perryman, Wayne; Pitman, Robert; Robertson, Kelly; Rone, Brenda; Salinas, Juan Carlos; Zerbini, Alexandre; Brownell, Robert L.; Clapham, Phillip J.

    2011-01-01

    The North Pacific right whale (Eubalaena japonica) was heavily exploited by both nineteenth century whaling and recent (1960s) illegal Soviet catches. Today, the species remains extremely rare especially in the eastern North Pacific. Here, we use photographic and genotype data to calculate the first mark–recapture estimates of abundance for right whales in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands. The estimates were very similar: photographic = 31 (95% CL 23–54), genotyping = 28 (95% CL 24–42). We also estimated the population contains eight females (95% CL 7–18) and 20 males (95% CL 17–37). Although these estimates may relate to a Bering Sea subpopulation, other data suggest that the total eastern North Pacific population is unlikely to be much larger. Its precarious status today—the world's smallest whale population for which an abundance estimate exists—is a direct consequence of uncontrolled and illegal whaling, and highlights the past failure of international management to prevent such abuses. PMID:20591853

  18. On the communicative significance of whistles in wild killer whales (Orcinus orca)

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Thomsen, Frank; Franck, Dierk; Ford, John

    2002-08-01

    Killer whales (Orcinus orca) use pulsed calls and whistles in underwater communication. Unlike pulsed calls, whistles have received little study and thus their function is poorly known. In this study, whistle activities of groups of individually known killer whales were compared quantitatively across behavioural categories. Acoustic recordings and simultaneous behavioural observations were made of northern resident killer whales off Vancouver Island in 1996 and 1997. Whistles were produced at greater rates than discrete calls during close-range behavioural activities than during long-range activities. They were the predominant sound-type recorded during socializing. The number of whistles per animal per minute was significantly higher during close-range behavioural activities than during long-range activities. Evidently, whistles play an important role in the close-range acoustic communication in northern resident killer whales.

  19. Habitat-based PCB environmental quality criteria for the protection of endangered killer whales (Orcinus orca).

    PubMed

    Alava, Juan José; Ross, Peter S; Lachmuth, Cara; Ford, John K B; Hickie, Brendan E; Gobas, Frank A P C

    2012-11-20

    The development of an area-based polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) food-web bioaccumulation model enabled a critical evaluation of the efficacy of sediment quality criteria and prey tissue residue guidelines in protecting fish-eating resident killer whales of British Columbia and adjacent waters. Model-predicted and observed PCB concentrations in resident killer whales and Chinook salmon were in good agreement, supporting the model's application for risk assessment and criteria development. Model application shows that PCB concentrations in the sediments from the resident killer whale's Critical Habitats and entire foraging range leads to PCB concentrations in most killer whales that exceed PCB toxicity threshold concentrations reported for marine mammals. Results further indicate that current PCB sediment quality and prey tissue residue criteria for fish-eating wildlife are not protective of killer whales and are not appropriate for assessing risks of PCB-contaminated sediments to high trophic level biota. We present a novel methodology for deriving sediment quality criteria and tissue residue guidelines that protect biota of high trophic levels under various PCB management scenarios. PCB concentrations in sediments and in prey that are deemed protective of resident killer whale health are much lower than current criteria values, underscoring the extreme vulnerability of high trophic level marine mammals to persistent and bioaccumulative contaminants. PMID:23098163

  20. Complete mitochondrial genome phylogeographic analysis of killer whales (Orcinus orca) indicates multiple species.

    PubMed

    Morin, Phillip A; Archer, Frederick I; Foote, Andrew D; Vilstrup, Julia; Allen, Eric E; Wade, Paul; Durban, John; Parsons, Kim; Pitman, Robert; Li, Lewyn; Bouffard, Pascal; Abel Nielsen, Sandra C; Rasmussen, Morten; Willerslev, Eske; Gilbert, M Thomas P; Harkins, Timothy

    2010-07-01

    Killer whales (Orcinus orca) currently comprise a single, cosmopolitan species with a diverse diet. However, studies over the last 30 yr have revealed populations of sympatric "ecotypes" with discrete prey preferences, morphology, and behaviors. Although these ecotypes avoid social interactions and are not known to interbreed, genetic studies to date have found extremely low levels of diversity in the mitochondrial control region, and few clear phylogeographic patterns worldwide. This low level of diversity is likely due to low mitochondrial mutation rates that are common to cetaceans. Using killer whales as a case study, we have developed a method to readily sequence, assemble, and analyze complete mitochondrial genomes from large numbers of samples to more accurately assess phylogeography and estimate divergence times. This represents an important tool for wildlife management, not only for killer whales but for many marine taxa. We used high-throughput sequencing to survey whole mitochondrial genome variation of 139 samples from the North Pacific, North Atlantic, and southern oceans. Phylogenetic analysis indicated that each of the known ecotypes represents a strongly supported clade with divergence times ranging from approximately 150,000 to 700,000 yr ago. We recommend that three named ecotypes be elevated to full species, and that the remaining types be recognized as subspecies pending additional data. Establishing appropriate taxonomic designations will greatly aid in understanding the ecological impacts and conservation needs of these important marine predators. We predict that phylogeographic mitogenomics will become an important tool for improved statistical phylogeography and more precise estimates of divergence times. PMID:20413674

  1. Killer whale (Orcinus orca) whistles from the western South Atlantic Ocean include high frequency signals.

    PubMed

    Andriolo, Artur; Reis, Sarah S; Amorim, Thiago O S; Sucunza, Federico; de Castro, Franciele R; Maia, Ygor Geyer; Zerbini, Alexandre N; Bortolotto, Guilherme A; Dalla Rosa, Luciano

    2015-09-01

    Acoustic parameters of killer whale (Orcinus orca) whistles were described for the western South Atlantic Ocean and highlight the occurrence of high frequency whistles. Killer whale signals were recorded on December of 2012, when a pod of four individuals was observed harassing a group of sperm whales. The high frequency whistles were highly stereotyped and were modulated mostly at ultrasonic frequencies. Compared to other contour types, the high frequency whistles are characterized by higher bandwidths, shorter durations, fewer harmonics, and higher sweep rates. The results add to the knowledge of vocal behavior of this species. PMID:26428807

  2. Responses of male sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) to killer whale sounds: implications for anti-predator strategies.

    PubMed

    Curé, Charlotte; Antunes, Ricardo; Alves, Ana Catarina; Visser, Fleur; Kvadsheim, Petter H; Miller, Patrick J O

    2013-01-01

    Interactions between individuals of different cetacean species are often observed in the wild. Killer whales (Orcinus orca) can be potential predators of many other cetaceans, and the interception of their vocalizations by unintended cetacean receivers may trigger anti-predator behavior that could mediate predator-prey interactions. We explored the anti-predator behaviour of five typically-solitary male sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) in the Norwegian Sea by playing sounds of mammal-feeding killer whales and monitoring behavioural responses using multi-sensor tags. Our results suggest that, rather than taking advantage of their large aerobic capacities to dive away from the perceived predator, sperm whales responded to killer whale playbacks by interrupting their foraging or resting dives and returning to the surface, changing their vocal production, and initiating a surprising degree of social behaviour in these mostly solitary animals. Thus, the interception of predator vocalizations by male sperm whales disrupted functional behaviours and mediated previously unrecognized anti-predator responses. PMID:23545484

  3. Responses of male sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) to killer whale sounds: implications for anti-predator strategies

    PubMed Central

    Curé, Charlotte; Antunes, Ricardo; Alves, Ana Catarina; Visser, Fleur; Kvadsheim, Petter H.; Miller, Patrick J. O.

    2013-01-01

    Interactions between individuals of different cetacean species are often observed in the wild. Killer whales (Orcinus orca) can be potential predators of many other cetaceans, and the interception of their vocalizations by unintended cetacean receivers may trigger anti-predator behavior that could mediate predator-prey interactions. We explored the anti-predator behaviour of five typically-solitary male sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) in the Norwegian Sea by playing sounds of mammal-feeding killer whales and monitoring behavioural responses using multi-sensor tags. Our results suggest that, rather than taking advantage of their large aerobic capacities to dive away from the perceived predator, sperm whales responded to killer whale playbacks by interrupting their foraging or resting dives and returning to the surface, changing their vocal production, and initiating a surprising degree of social behaviour in these mostly solitary animals. Thus, the interception of predator vocalizations by male sperm whales disrupted functional behaviours and mediated previously unrecognized anti-predator responses. PMID:23545484

  4. Molecular characterization of a novel gammaretrovirus in killer whales (Orcinus orca).

    PubMed

    Lamere, Sarah A; St Leger, Judy A; Schrenzel, Mark D; Anthony, Simon J; Rideout, Bruce A; Salomon, Daniel R

    2009-12-01

    There are currently no published data documenting the presence of retroviruses in cetaceans, though the occurrences of cancers and immunodeficiency states suggest the potential. We examined tissues from adult killer whales and detected a novel gammaretrovirus by degenerate PCR. Reverse transcription-PCR also demonstrated tissue and serum expression of retroviral mRNA. The full-length sequence of the provirus was obtained by PCR, and a TaqMan-based copy number assay did not demonstrate evidence of productive infection. PCR on blood samples from 11 healthy captive killer whales and tissues from 3 free-ranging animals detected the proviral DNA in all tissues examined from all animals. A survey of multiple cetacean species by PCR for gag, pol, and env sequences showed homologs of this virus in the DNA of eight species of delphinids, pygmy and dwarf sperm whales, and harbor porpoises, but not in beluga or fin whales. Analysis of the bottlenose dolphin genome revealed two full-length proviral sequences with 97.4% and 96.9% nucleotide identity to the killer whale gammaretrovirus. The results of single-cell PCR on killer whale sperm and Southern blotting are also consistent with the conclusion that the provirus is endogenous. We suggest that this gammaretrovirus entered the delphinoid ancestor's genome before the divergence of modern dolphins or that an exogenous variant existed following divergence that was ultimately endogenized. However, the transcriptional activity demonstrated in tissues and the nearly intact viral genome suggest a more recent integration into the killer whale genome, favoring the latter hypothesis. The proposed name for this retrovirus is killer whale endogenous retrovirus. PMID:19812152

  5. Design and operation specifications of an active monitoring system for detecting southern resident killer whales

    SciTech Connect

    Deng, Zhiqun; Carlson, Thomas J.; Xu, Jinshan; Martinez, Jayson J.; Weiland, Mark A.; Mueller, Robert P.; Myers, Joshua R.; Jones, Mark E.

    2011-09-30

    Before final approval is given to the Snohomish County Public Utility District No. 1 for deploying the first tidal power devices in the United States in an open water environment, a system to manage the potential risk of injury to killer whales due to collision with moving turbine blades must be demonstrated. The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) is tasked with establishing the performance requirements for, constructing, and testing a prototype marine animal alert system for triggering temporary turbine shutdown when there is risk of collision with a killer whale. To develop a system that relies on active sonar two critical areas must be investigated - the target strength of killer whales and the frequency content of commercially available active sonar units. PNNL studied three target strength models: a simple model, the Fourier matching model, and the Kirchoff-ray mode model. Using target strength measurements of bottlenose dolphins obtained by previous researchers and assuming killer whales share similar morphology and structure, PNNL extrapolated the target strength of an adult killer whale 7.5 m in length at a frequency of 67 kHz. To study the frequency content of a commercially available sonar unit, direct measurements of the signal transmitted by the sonar were obtained by using a hydrophone connected to a data acquisition system in both laboratory and field conditions. The measurements revealed that in addition to the primary frequency of 200 kHz, there is a secondary frequency component at 90 kHz, which is within the hearing range of killer whales. The amplitude of the 90-kHz frequency component is above the hearing threshold of killer whales but below the threshold for potential injuries.

  6. Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in killer whales (Orcinus orca) from the Crozet Archipelago, southern Indian Ocean.

    PubMed

    Noël, Marie; Barrett-Lennard, Lance; Guinet, Christophe; Dangerfield, Neil; Ross, Peter S

    2009-10-01

    Persistent organic pollutants (POPs), including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs), and dibenzofurans (PCDFs), are ubiquitous environmental contaminants of which significant concentrations are reported in upper trophic level animals. In 1998, we collected blubber biopsy samples (n=11) from killer whales (Orcinus orca) inhabiting the coastal waters around Possession Island, Crozet Archipelago, southern Indian Ocean, for contaminant analyses. Despite inhabiting an isolated region far removed from industrial activities, these killer whales can presently be considered among the most PCB-contaminated cetaceans in the southern hemisphere, with concentrations ranging from 4.4 to 20.5mg/kg lipid weight (lw). PCDD levels ranged from below the detection limit (5 ng/kg) to 77.1 ng/kg lw and PCDF levels from below the detection limit (7 ng/kg) to 36.1 ng/kg lw. Over 70% of our study animals had PCB concentrations which exceeded a 1.3mg/kg PCB threshold established for endocrine disruption and immunotoxicity in free-ranging harbour seals, suggesting that organic contaminants cannot be ruled out as an additional threat to this declining population. PMID:19625078

  7. Killer Whale Depredation and Associated Costs to Alaskan Sablefish, Pacific Halibut and Greenland Turbot Longliners

    PubMed Central

    Peterson, Megan J.; Mueter, Franz; Criddle, Keith; Haynie, Alan C.

    2014-01-01

    Killer whale (Orcinus orca) depredation (whales stealing or damaging fish caught on fishing gear) adversely impacts demersal longline fisheries for sablefish (Anoplopoma fimbria), Pacific halibut (Hippoglossus stenolepis) and Greenland turbot (Reinhardtius hippoglossoides) in the Bering Sea, Aleutian Islands and Western Gulf of Alaska. These interactions increase direct costs and opportunity costs associated with catching fish and reduce the profitability of longline fishing in western Alaska. This study synthesizes National Marine Fisheries Service observer data, National Marine Fisheries Service sablefish longline survey and fishermen-collected depredation data to: 1) estimate the frequency of killer whale depredation on longline fisheries in Alaska; 2) estimate depredation-related catch per unit effort reductions; and 3) assess direct costs and opportunity costs incurred by longliners in western Alaska as a result of killer whale interactions. The percentage of commercial fishery sets affected by killer whales was highest in the Bering Sea fisheries for: sablefish (21.4%), Greenland turbot (9.9%), and Pacific halibut (6.9%). Average catch per unit effort reductions on depredated sets ranged from 35.1–69.3% for the observed longline fleet in all three management areas from 1998–2012 (p<0.001). To compensate for depredation, fishermen set additional gear to catch the same amount of fish, and this increased fuel costs by an additional 82% per depredated set (average $433 additional fuel per depredated set). In a separate analysis with six longline vessels in 2011and 2012, killer whale depredation avoidance measures resulted in an average additional cost of $494 per depredated vessel-day for fuel and crew food. Opportunity costs of time lost by fishermen averaged $522 per additional vessel-day on the grounds. This assessment of killer whale depredation costs represents the most extensive economic evaluation of this issue in Alaska to date and will help longline

  8. Killer whale depredation and associated costs to Alaskan sablefish, Pacific halibut and Greenland turbot longliners.

    PubMed

    Peterson, Megan J; Mueter, Franz; Criddle, Keith; Haynie, Alan C

    2014-01-01

    Killer whale (Orcinus orca) depredation (whales stealing or damaging fish caught on fishing gear) adversely impacts demersal longline fisheries for sablefish (Anoplopoma fimbria), Pacific halibut (Hippoglossus stenolepis) and Greenland turbot (Reinhardtius hippoglossoides) in the Bering Sea, Aleutian Islands and Western Gulf of Alaska. These interactions increase direct costs and opportunity costs associated with catching fish and reduce the profitability of longline fishing in western Alaska. This study synthesizes National Marine Fisheries Service observer data, National Marine Fisheries Service sablefish longline survey and fishermen-collected depredation data to: 1) estimate the frequency of killer whale depredation on longline fisheries in Alaska; 2) estimate depredation-related catch per unit effort reductions; and 3) assess direct costs and opportunity costs incurred by longliners in western Alaska as a result of killer whale interactions. The percentage of commercial fishery sets affected by killer whales was highest in the Bering Sea fisheries for: sablefish (21.4%), Greenland turbot (9.9%), and Pacific halibut (6.9%). Average catch per unit effort reductions on depredated sets ranged from 35.1-69.3% for the observed longline fleet in all three management areas from 1998-2012 (p<0.001). To compensate for depredation, fishermen set additional gear to catch the same amount of fish, and this increased fuel costs by an additional 82% per depredated set (average $433 additional fuel per depredated set). In a separate analysis with six longline vessels in 2011 and 2012, killer whale depredation avoidance measures resulted in an average additional cost of $494 per depredated vessel-day for fuel and crew food. Opportunity costs of time lost by fishermen averaged $522 per additional vessel-day on the grounds. This assessment of killer whale depredation costs represents the most extensive economic evaluation of this issue in Alaska to date and will help longline

  9. Environmental isolates of fungi from aquarium pools housing killer whales (Orcinus orca).

    PubMed

    Kohata, Erina; Kano, Rui; Akune, Yuichiro; Ohno, Yoshito; Soichi, Makoto; Yanai, Tokuma; Hasegawa, Atsuhiko; Kamata, Hiroshi

    2013-12-01

    Systemic mycoses in killer whales (Orcinus orca) are rare diseases, but have been reported. Two killer whales died by fungal infections at the Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium in Japan. In this study, the fungal flora of the pool environment at the aquarium was characterized. Alternaria spp., Aspergillus spp. (A. fumigatus, A. niger, A. versicolor), Fusarium spp. and Penicillium spp. were isolated from the air and the pool surroundings. The other isolates were identified as fungal species non-pathogenic for mammals. However, the species of fungi isolated from the environmental samples in this study were not the same as those isolated from the cases of disease in killer whales previously reported. PMID:24045935

  10. Salmonella Newport omphaloarteritis in a stranded killer whale (Orcinus orca) neonate.

    PubMed

    Colegrove, Kathleen M; St Leger, Judy A; Raverty, Stephen; Jang, Spencer; Berman-Kowalewski, Michelle; Gaydos, Joseph K

    2010-10-01

    Salmonella enterica serovar Newport (Salmonella Newport) was isolated from multiple tissues in a neonate killer whale (Orcinus orca) that stranded dead in 2005 along the central coast of California, USA. Necrotizing omphaloarteritis and omphalophlebitis was observed on histologic examination suggesting umbilical infection was the route of entry. Genetic analysis of skin samples indicated that the neonate had an offshore haplotype. Salmonellosis has rarely been identified in free-ranging marine mammals and the significance of Salmonella Newport infection to the health of free-ranging killer whales is currently unknown. PMID:20966284

  11. Genome-culture coevolution promotes rapid divergence of killer whale ecotypes.

    PubMed

    Foote, Andrew D; Vijay, Nagarjun; Ávila-Arcos, María C; Baird, Robin W; Durban, John W; Fumagalli, Matteo; Gibbs, Richard A; Hanson, M Bradley; Korneliussen, Thorfinn S; Martin, Michael D; Robertson, Kelly M; Sousa, Vitor C; Vieira, Filipe G; Vinař, Tomáš; Wade, Paul; Worley, Kim C; Excoffier, Laurent; Morin, Phillip A; Gilbert, M Thomas P; Wolf, Jochen B W

    2016-01-01

    Analysing population genomic data from killer whale ecotypes, which we estimate have globally radiated within less than 250,000 years, we show that genetic structuring including the segregation of potentially functional alleles is associated with socially inherited ecological niche. Reconstruction of ancestral demographic history revealed bottlenecks during founder events, likely promoting ecological divergence and genetic drift resulting in a wide range of genome-wide differentiation between pairs of allopatric and sympatric ecotypes. Functional enrichment analyses provided evidence for regional genomic divergence associated with habitat, dietary preferences and post-zygotic reproductive isolation. Our findings are consistent with expansion of small founder groups into novel niches by an initial plastic behavioural response, perpetuated by social learning imposing an altered natural selection regime. The study constitutes an important step towards an understanding of the complex interaction between demographic history, culture, ecological adaptation and evolution at the genomic level. PMID:27243207

  12. Genome-culture coevolution promotes rapid divergence of killer whale ecotypes

    PubMed Central

    Foote, Andrew D.; Vijay, Nagarjun; Ávila-Arcos, María C.; Baird, Robin W.; Durban, John W.; Fumagalli, Matteo; Gibbs, Richard A.; Hanson, M. Bradley; Korneliussen, Thorfinn S.; Martin, Michael D.; Robertson, Kelly M.; Sousa, Vitor C.; Vieira, Filipe G.; Vinař, Tomáš; Wade, Paul; Worley, Kim C.; Excoffier, Laurent; Morin, Phillip A.; Gilbert, M. Thomas P.; Wolf, Jochen B.W.

    2016-01-01

    Analysing population genomic data from killer whale ecotypes, which we estimate have globally radiated within less than 250,000 years, we show that genetic structuring including the segregation of potentially functional alleles is associated with socially inherited ecological niche. Reconstruction of ancestral demographic history revealed bottlenecks during founder events, likely promoting ecological divergence and genetic drift resulting in a wide range of genome-wide differentiation between pairs of allopatric and sympatric ecotypes. Functional enrichment analyses provided evidence for regional genomic divergence associated with habitat, dietary preferences and post-zygotic reproductive isolation. Our findings are consistent with expansion of small founder groups into novel niches by an initial plastic behavioural response, perpetuated by social learning imposing an altered natural selection regime. The study constitutes an important step towards an understanding of the complex interaction between demographic history, culture, ecological adaptation and evolution at the genomic level. PMID:27243207

  13. Accounting for subgroup structure in line-transect abundance estimates of false killer whales (Pseudorca crassidens) in Hawaiian waters.

    PubMed

    Bradford, Amanda L; Forney, Karin A; Oleson, Erin M; Barlow, Jay

    2014-01-01

    For biological populations that form aggregations (or clusters) of individuals, cluster size is an important parameter in line-transect abundance estimation and should be accurately measured. Cluster size in cetaceans has traditionally been represented as the total number of individuals in a group, but group size may be underestimated if group members are spatially diffuse. Groups of false killer whales (Pseudorca crassidens) can comprise numerous subgroups that are dispersed over tens of kilometers, leading to a spatial mismatch between a detected group and the theoretical framework of line-transect analysis. Three stocks of false killer whales are found within the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone of the Hawaiian Islands (Hawaiian EEZ): an insular main Hawaiian Islands stock, a pelagic stock, and a Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI) stock. A ship-based line-transect survey of the Hawaiian EEZ was conducted in the summer and fall of 2010, resulting in six systematic-effort visual sightings of pelagic (n = 5) and NWHI (n = 1) false killer whale groups. The maximum number and spatial extent of subgroups per sighting was 18 subgroups and 35 km, respectively. These sightings were combined with data from similar previous surveys and analyzed within the conventional line-transect estimation framework. The detection function, mean cluster size, and encounter rate were estimated separately to appropriately incorporate data collected using different methods. Unlike previous line-transect analyses of cetaceans, subgroups were treated as the analytical cluster instead of groups because subgroups better conform to the specifications of line-transect theory. Bootstrap values (n = 5,000) of the line-transect parameters were randomly combined to estimate the variance of stock-specific abundance estimates. Hawai'i pelagic and NWHI false killer whales were estimated to number 1,552 (CV = 0.66; 95% CI = 479-5,030) and 552 (CV = 1.09; 95% CI = 97

  14. Prey items and predation behavior of killer whales (Orcinus orca) in Nunavut, Canada based on Inuit hunter interviews

    PubMed Central

    2012-01-01

    Background Killer whales (Orcinus orca) are the most widely distributed cetacean, occurring in all oceans worldwide, and within ocean regions different ecotypes are defined based on prey preferences. Prey items are largely unknown in the eastern Canadian Arctic and therefore we conducted a survey of Inuit Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) to provide information on the feeding ecology of killer whales. We compiled Inuit observations on killer whales and their prey items via 105 semi-directed interviews conducted in 11 eastern Nunavut communities (Kivalliq and Qikiqtaaluk regions) from 2007-2010. Results Results detail local knowledge of killer whale prey items, hunting behaviour, prey responses, distribution of predation events, and prey capture techniques. Inuit TEK and published literature agree that killer whales at times eat only certain parts of prey, particularly of large whales, that attacks on large whales entail relatively small groups of killer whales, and that they hunt cooperatively. Inuit observations suggest that there is little prey specialization beyond marine mammals and there are no definitive observations of fish in the diet. Inuit hunters and elders also documented the use of sea ice and shallow water as prey refugia. Conclusions By combining TEK and scientific approaches we provide a more holistic view of killer whale predation in the eastern Canadian Arctic relevant to management and policy. Continuing the long-term relationship between scientists and hunters will provide for successful knowledge integration and has resulted in considerable improvement in understanding of killer whale ecology relevant to management of prey species. Combining scientists and Inuit knowledge will assist in northerners adapting to the restructuring of the Arctic marine ecosystem associated with warming and loss of sea ice. PMID:22520955

  15. Conceptual Change and Killer Whales: Constructing Ecological Values for Animals at the Vancouver Aquarium.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Kelsey, Elin

    1991-01-01

    Examines how the aquarium has attempted to move from a transfer view of knowledge to a constructivist approach in its most popular general public program--the killer whale presentation. The process of change that staff underwent is similar to conceptual change processes among learners of science. Describes constructivist strategies of conceptual…

  16. 77 FR 71259 - Taking of Marine Mammals Incidental to Commercial Fishing Operations; False Killer Whale Take...

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2012-11-29

    ... wire diameter regulation. We understand, based on public comment (see comment/response 33), that there... regulations have been promulgated. 3. Main Hawaiian Islands Longline Fishing Prohibited Area An existing... necessary for false killer whales. See comments/responses 3-5 and 38-41 ] below for more detail on...

  17. 50 CFR 226.206 - Critical habitat for the Southern Resident killer whale (Orcinus orca).

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2013 CFR

    2013-10-01

    ... 50 Wildlife and Fisheries 10 2013-10-01 2013-10-01 false Critical habitat for the Southern Resident killer whale (Orcinus orca). 226.206 Section 226.206 Wildlife and Fisheries NATIONAL MARINE FISHERIES SERVICE, NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION, DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE MARINE MAMMALS DESIGNATED CRITICAL HABITAT § 226.206...

  18. Effects of different analysis techniques and recording duty cycles on passive acoustic monitoring of killer whales.

    PubMed

    Riera, Amalis; Ford, John K; Ross Chapman, N

    2013-09-01

    Killer whales in British Columbia are at risk, and little is known about their winter distribution. Passive acoustic monitoring of their year-round habitat is a valuable supplemental method to traditional visual and photographic surveys. However, long-term acoustic studies of odontocetes have some limitations, including the generation of large amounts of data that require highly time-consuming processing. There is a need to develop tools and protocols to maximize the efficiency of such studies. Here, two types of analysis, real-time and long term spectral averages, were compared to assess their performance at detecting killer whale calls in long-term acoustic recordings. In addition, two different duty cycles, 1/3 and 2/3, were tested. Both the use of long term spectral averages and a lower duty cycle resulted in a decrease in call detection and positive pod identification, leading to underestimations of the amount of time the whales were present. The impact of these limitations should be considered in future killer whale acoustic surveys. A compromise between a lower resolution data processing method and a higher duty cycle is suggested for maximum methodological efficiency. PMID:23968036

  19. Ship noise extends to frequencies used for echolocation by endangered killer whales.

    PubMed

    Veirs, Scott; Veirs, Val; Wood, Jason D

    2016-01-01

    Combining calibrated hydrophone measurements with vessel location data from the Automatic Identification System, we estimate underwater sound pressure levels for 1,582 unique ships that transited the core critical habitat of the endangered Southern Resident killer whales during 28 months between March, 2011, and October, 2013. Median received spectrum levels of noise from 2,809 isolated transits are elevated relative to median background levels not only at low frequencies (20-30 dB re 1 µPa(2)/Hz from 100 to 1,000 Hz), but also at high frequencies (5-13 dB from 10,000 to 96,000 Hz). Thus, noise received from ships at ranges less than 3 km extends to frequencies used by odontocetes. Broadband received levels (11.5-40,000 Hz) near the shoreline in Haro Strait (WA, USA) for the entire ship population were 110 ± 7 dB re 1 µPa on average. Assuming near-spherical spreading based on a transmission loss experiment we compute mean broadband source levels for the ship population of 173 ± 7 dB re 1 µPa 1 m without accounting for frequency-dependent absorption. Mean ship speed was 7.3 ± 2.0 m/s (14.1 ± 3.9 knots). Most ship classes show a linear relationship between source level and speed with a slope near +2 dB per m/s (+1 dB/knot). Spectrum, 1/12-octave, and 1/3-octave source levels for the whole population have median values that are comparable to previous measurements and models at most frequencies, but for select studies may be relatively low below 200 Hz and high above 20,000 Hz. Median source spectrum levels peak near 50 Hz for all 12 ship classes, have a maximum of 159 dB re 1 µPa(2)/Hz @ 1 m for container ships, and vary between classes. Below 200 Hz, the class-specific median spectrum levels bifurcate with large commercial ships grouping as higher power noise sources. Within all ship classes spectrum levels vary more at low frequencies than at high frequencies, and the degree of variability is almost halved for classes that have smaller speed standard

  20. Ship noise extends to frequencies used for echolocation by endangered killer whales

    PubMed Central

    Veirs, Val; Wood, Jason D.

    2016-01-01

    Combining calibrated hydrophone measurements with vessel location data from the Automatic Identification System, we estimate underwater sound pressure levels for 1,582 unique ships that transited the core critical habitat of the endangered Southern Resident killer whales during 28 months between March, 2011, and October, 2013. Median received spectrum levels of noise from 2,809 isolated transits are elevated relative to median background levels not only at low frequencies (20–30 dB re 1 µPa2/Hz from 100 to 1,000 Hz), but also at high frequencies (5–13 dB from 10,000 to 96,000 Hz). Thus, noise received from ships at ranges less than 3 km extends to frequencies used by odontocetes. Broadband received levels (11.5–40,000 Hz) near the shoreline in Haro Strait (WA, USA) for the entire ship population were 110 ± 7 dB re 1 µPa on average. Assuming near-spherical spreading based on a transmission loss experiment we compute mean broadband source levels for the ship population of 173 ± 7 dB re 1 µPa 1 m without accounting for frequency-dependent absorption. Mean ship speed was 7.3 ± 2.0 m/s (14.1 ± 3.9 knots). Most ship classes show a linear relationship between source level and speed with a slope near +2 dB per m/s (+1 dB/knot). Spectrum, 1/12-octave, and 1/3-octave source levels for the whole population have median values that are comparable to previous measurements and models at most frequencies, but for select studies may be relatively low below 200 Hz and high above 20,000 Hz. Median source spectrum levels peak near 50 Hz for all 12 ship classes, have a maximum of 159 dB re 1 µPa2/Hz @ 1 m for container ships, and vary between classes. Below 200 Hz, the class-specific median spectrum levels bifurcate with large commercial ships grouping as higher power noise sources. Within all ship classes spectrum levels vary more at low frequencies than at high frequencies, and the degree of variability is almost halved for classes that have smaller speed standard

  1. Ecological knowledge, leadership, and the evolution of menopause in killer whales.

    PubMed

    Brent, Lauren J N; Franks, Daniel W; Foster, Emma A; Balcomb, Kenneth C; Cant, Michael A; Croft, Darren P

    2015-03-16

    Classic life-history theory predicts that menopause should not occur because there should be no selection for survival after the cessation of reproduction [1]. Yet, human females routinely live 30 years after they have stopped reproducing [2]. Only two other species-killer whales (Orcinus orca) and short-finned pilot whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus) [3, 4]-have comparable postreproductive lifespans. In theory, menopause can evolve via inclusive fitness benefits [5, 6], but the mechanisms by which postreproductive females help their kin remain enigmatic. One hypothesis is that postreproductive females act as repositories of ecological knowledge and thereby buffer kin against environmental hardships [7, 8]. We provide the first test of this hypothesis using a unique long-term dataset on wild resident killer whales. We show three key results. First, postreproductively aged females lead groups during collective movement in salmon foraging grounds. Second, leadership by postreproductively aged females is especially prominent in difficult years when salmon abundance is low. This finding is critical because salmon abundance drives both mortality and reproductive success in resident killer whales [9, 10]. Third, females are more likely to lead their sons than they are to lead their daughters, supporting predictions of recent models [5] of the evolution of menopause based on kinship dynamics. Our results show that postreproductive females may boost the fitness of kin through the transfer of ecological knowledge. The value gained from the wisdom of elders can help explain why female resident killer whales and humans continue to live long after they have stopped reproducing. PMID:25754636

  2. Loss of Arctic sea ice causing punctuated change in sightings of killer whales (Orcinus orca) over the past century.

    PubMed

    Higdon, Jeff W; Ferguson, Steven H

    2009-07-01

    Killer whales (Orcinus orca) are major predators that may reshape marine ecosystems via top-down forcing. Climate change models predict major reductions in sea ice with the subsequent expectation for readjustments of species' distribution and abundance. Here, we measure changes in killer whale distribution in the Hudson Bay region with decreasing sea ice as an example of global readjustments occurring with climate change. We summarize records of killer whales in Hudson Bay, Hudson Strait, and Foxe Basin in the eastern Canadian Arctic and relate them to an historical sea ice data set while accounting for spatial and temporal autocorrelation in the data. We find evidence for "choke points," where sea ice inhibits killer whale movement, thereby creating restrictions to their Arctic distribution. We hypothesize that a threshold exists in seasonal sea ice concentration within these choke points that results in pulses in advancements in distribution of an ice-avoiding predator. Hudson Strait appears to have been a significant sea ice choke point that opened up .approximately 50 years ago allowing for an initial punctuated appearance of killer whales followed by a gradual advancing distribution within the entire Hudson Bay region. Killer whale sightings have increased exponentially and are now reported in the Hudson Bay region every summer. We predict that other choke points will soon open up with continued sea ice melt producing punctuated predator-prey trophic cascades across the Arctic. PMID:19688941

  3. Hematological and serum biochemical analytes reflect physiological challenges during gestation and lactation in killer whales (Orcinus orca).

    PubMed

    Robeck, Todd R; Nollens, Hendrik H

    2013-01-01

    Gestation and lactation result in metabolic alterations of the dam because of varying demands of the fetus and offspring during the different stages of development. Despite killer whales (Orcinus orca) having one of the longest gestations and highest birth weights of all mammals in human care, these metabolic alterations, and their impact on the physiology of the dam have not been measured. The objectives of this analysis were to determine if physiologic demands on the killer whale during pregnancy and lactation have measurable effects on hematology and biochemical analytes and if detectable, to compare these changes to those which are observed in other mammalian species. Forty hematologic and biochemical analytes from seven female killer whales (22 pregnancies, 1,507 samples) were compared between the following stages: (1) non-pregnant or lactating (control); (2) gestation; and (3) the first 12 months of lactation. Decreased hematocrit, hemoglobin, and red blood cell counts were indicative of plasma volume expansion during mid and late gestation. The killer whales exhibited a progressively increasing physiologic inflammatory state leading up to parturition. Gestation and lactation caused significant shifts in the serum lipid profiles. Gestation and lactation cause significant physiologic changes in the killer whale dam. The last 12 months of gestation had greater physiological impact than lactation, but changes associated with and immediately following parturition were the most dramatic. During this period, killer whales may experience increased susceptibility to illness, and anthropogenic and environmental disturbances. PMID:23813680

  4. Individual killer whale vocal variation during intra-group behavioral dynamics

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Grebner, Dawn M.

    The scientific goal of this dissertation was to carefully study the signal structure of killer whale communications and vocal complexity and link them to behavioral circumstances. The overall objective of this research sought to provide insight into killer whale call content and usage which may be conveying information to conspecifics in order to maintain group cohesion. Data were collected in the summers of 2006 and 2007 in Johnstone Strait, British Columbia. For both individuals and small groups, vocalizations were isolated using a triangular hydrophone array and the behavioral movement patterns were captured by a theodolite and video camera positioned on a cliff overlooking the hyrophone locations. This dissertation is divided into four analysis chapters. In Chapter 3, discriminant analysis was used to validate the four N04 call subtypes which were originally parsed due to variations in slope segments. The first two functions of the discriminant analysis explained 97% of the variability. Most of the variability for the N04 call was found in the front convex and the terminal portions of the call, while very little variability was found in the center region of the call. This research revealed that individual killer whales produced multiple subtypes of the N04 call. No correlations of behaviors to acoustic parameters obtained were found. The aim of the Chapter 4 was to determine if killer whale calling behavior varied prior to and after the animals had joined. Pulsed call rates were found to be greater pre- compared to post-joining events. Two-way vocal exchanges were more common occurring 74% of the time during pre-joining events. In Chapter 5, initiated and first response to calls varied between age/sex class groups when mothers were separated from an offspring. Solo mothers and calves initiated pulsed calls more often than they responded. Most of the no vocal responses were due to mothers who were foraging. Finally, observations of the frequency split in N04

  5. Assessment of injuries to killer whales in Prince William Sound. Marine mammal study number 2. Exxon Valdez oil spill state/federal natural resource damage assessment final report

    SciTech Connect

    Dahlheim, M.E.; Matkin, C.O.

    1993-12-01

    Photo-identification studies of individual killer whales inhabiting Prince William Sound were collected from 1989-91 to determine the impact of the spill on whale abundance and distribution. Concurrent photo-identification studies were also conducted in Southeast Alaska to determine if PWS killer whales were displaced to other areas. Despite increased effort, the number of encounters with PWS killer whales appears to be decreasing. The authors assume, that the whales are dead from natural causes, a result of interactions with fisheries, from the spill, or a combination of these causes.

  6. Mitochondrial sequence divergence among Antarctic killer whale ecotypes is consistent with multiple species.

    PubMed

    LeDuc, Richard G; Robertson, Kelly M; Pitman, Robert L

    2008-08-23

    Recently, three visually distinct forms of killer whales (Orcinus orca) were described from Antarctic waters and designated as types A, B and C. Based on consistent differences in prey selection and habitat preferences, morphological divergence and apparent lack of interbreeding among these broadly sympatric forms, it was suggested that they may represent separate species. To evaluate this hypothesis, we compared complete sequences of the mitochondrial control region from 81 Antarctic killer whale samples, including 9 type A, 18 type B, 47 type C and 7 type-undetermined individuals. We found three fixed differences that separated type A from B and C, and a single fixed difference that separated type C from A and B. These results are consistent with reproductive isolation among the different forms, although caution is needed in drawing further conclusions. Despite dramatic differences in morphology and ecology, the relatively low levels of sequence divergence in Antarctic killer whales indicate that these evolutionary changes occurred relatively rapidly and recently. PMID:18524738

  7. Segmentation of Killer Whale Vocalizations Using the Hilbert-Huang Transform

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Adam, Olivier

    2008-12-01

    The study of cetacean vocalizations is usually based on spectrogram analysis. The feature extraction is obtained from 2D methods like the edge detection algorithm. Difficulties appear when signal-to-noise ratios are weak or when more than one vocalization is simultaneously emitted. This is the case for acoustic observations in a natural environment and especially for the killer whales which swim in groups. To resolve this problem, we propose the use of the Hilbert-Huang transform. First, we illustrate how few modes (5) are satisfactory for the analysis of these calls. Then, we detail our approach which consists of combining the modes for extracting the time-varying frequencies of the vocalizations. This combination takes advantage of one of the empirical mode decomposition properties which is that the successive IMFs represent the original data broken down into frequency components from highest to lowest frequency. To evaluate the performance, our method is first applied on the simulated chirp signals. This approach allows us to link one chirp to one mode. Then we apply it on real signals emitted by killer whales. The results confirm that this method is a favorable alternative for the automatic extraction of killer whale vocalizations.

  8. Effects of noise levels and call types on the source levels of killer whale calls.

    PubMed

    Holt, Marla M; Noren, Dawn P; Emmons, Candice K

    2011-11-01

    Accurate parameter estimates relevant to the vocal behavior of marine mammals are needed to assess potential effects of anthropogenic sound exposure including how masking noise reduces the active space of sounds used for communication. Information about how these animals modify their vocal behavior in response to noise exposure is also needed for such assessment. Prior studies have reported variations in the source levels of killer whale sounds, and a more recent study reported that killer whales compensate for vessel masking noise by increasing their call amplitude. The objectives of the current study were to investigate the source levels of a variety of call types in southern resident killer whales while also considering background noise level as a likely factor related to call source level variability. The source levels of 763 discrete calls along with corresponding background noise were measured over three summer field seasons in the waters surrounding the San Juan Islands, WA. Both noise level and call type were significant factors on call source levels (1-40 kHz band, range of 135.0-175.7 dB(rms) re 1 [micro sign]Pa at 1 m). These factors should be considered in models that predict how anthropogenic masking noise reduces vocal communication space in marine mammals. PMID:22087938

  9. Support for the beam focusing hypothesis in the false killer whale.

    PubMed

    Kloepper, Laura N; Buck, John R; Smith, Adam B; Supin, Alexander Ya; Gaudette, Jason E; Nachtigall, Paul E

    2015-08-01

    The odontocete sound production system is complex and composed of tissues, air sacs and a fatty melon. Previous studies suggested that the emitted sonar beam might be actively focused, narrowing depending on target distance. In this study, we further tested this beam focusing hypothesis in a false killer whale. Using three linear arrays of hydrophones, we recorded the same emitted click at 2, 4 and 7 m distance and calculated the beamwidth, intensity, center frequency and bandwidth as recorded on each array at every distance. If the whale did not focus her beam, acoustics predicts the intensity would decay with range as a function of spherical spreading and the angular beamwidth would remain constant. On the contrary, our results show that as the distance from the whale to the array increases, the beamwidth is narrower and the received click intensity is higher than that predicted by a spherical spreading function. Each of these measurements is consistent with the animal focusing her beam on a target at a given range. These results support the hypothesis that the false killer whale is 'focusing' its sonar beam, producing a narrower and more intense signal than that predicted by spherical spreading. PMID:26056247

  10. Hearing Sensation Changes When a Warning Predicts a Loud Sound in the False Killer Whale (Pseudorca crassidens).

    PubMed

    Nachtigall, Paul E; Supin, Alexander Y

    2016-01-01

    Stranded whales and dolphins have sometimes been associated with loud anthropogenic sounds. Echolocating whales produce very loud sounds themselves and have developed the ability to protect their hearing from their own signals. A false killer whale's hearing sensitivity was measured when a faint warning sound was given just before the presentation of an increase in intensity to 170 dB. If the warning occurred within 1-9 s, as opposed to 20-40 s, the whale showed a 13-dB reduction in hearing sensitivity. Warning sounds before loud pulses may help mitigate the effects of loud anthropogenic sounds on wild animals. PMID:26611027

  11. Antarctic killer whales make rapid, round-trip movements to subtropical waters: evidence for physiological maintenance migrations?

    PubMed

    Durban, J W; Pitman, R L

    2012-04-23

    Killer whales (Orcinus orca) are important predators in high latitudes, where their ecological impact is mediated through their movements. We used satellite telemetry to provide the first evidence of migration for killer whales, characterized by fast (more than 12 km h(-1), 6.5 knots) and direct movements away from Antarctic waters by six of 12 type B killer whales tagged when foraging near the Antarctic Peninsula, including all tags transmitting for more than three weeks. Tags on five of these whales revealed consistent movements to subtropical waters (30-37° S) off Uruguay and Brazil, in surface water temperatures ranging from -1.9°C to 24.2°C; one 109 day track documented a non-stop round trip of almost 9400 km (5075 nmi) in just 42 days. Although whales travelled slower in the warmest waters, there was no obvious interruption in swim speed or direction to indicate calving or prolonged feeding. Furthermore, these movements were aseasonal, initiating over 80 days between February and April; one whale returned to within 40 km of the tagging site at the onset of the austral winter in June. We suggest that these movements may represent periodic maintenance migrations, with warmer waters allowing skin regeneration without the high cost of heat loss: a physiological constraint that may also affect other whales. PMID:22031725

  12. Cytochrome P4501A1 expression in blubber biopsies of endangered false killer whales (Pseudorca crassidens) and nine other odontocete species from Hawai'i.

    PubMed

    Foltz, Kerry M; Baird, Robin W; Ylitalo, Gina M; Jensen, Brenda A

    2014-11-01

    Odontocetes (toothed whales) are considered sentinel species in the marine environment because of their high trophic position, long life spans, and blubber that accumulates lipophilic contaminants. Cytochrome P4501A1 (CYP1A1) is a biomarker of exposure and molecular effects of certain persistent organic pollutants. Immunohistochemistry was used to visualize CYP1A1 expression in blubber biopsies collected by non-lethal sampling methods from 10 species of free-ranging Hawaiian odontocetes: short-finned pilot whale, melon-headed whale, pygmy killer whale, common bottlenose dolphin, rough-toothed dolphin, pantropical spotted dolphin, Blainville's beaked whale, Cuvier's beaked whale, sperm whale, and endangered main Hawaiian Islands insular false killer whale. Significantly higher levels of CYP1A1 were observed in false killer whales and rough-toothed dolphins compared to melon-headed whales, and in general, trophic position appears to influence CYP1A1 expression patterns in particular species groups. No significant differences in CYP1A1 were found based on age class or sex across all samples. However, within male false killer whales, juveniles expressed significantly higher levels of CYP1A1 when compared to adults. Total polychlorinated biphenyl (∑PCBs) concentrations in 84% of false killer whales exceeded proposed threshold levels for health effects, and ∑PCBs correlated with CYP1A1 expression. There was no significant relationship between PCB toxic equivalent quotient and CYP1A1 expression, suggesting that this response may be influenced by agonists other than the dioxin-like PCBs measured in this study. No significant differences were found for CYP1A1 expression among social clusters of false killer whales. This work provides a foundation for future health monitoring of the endangered stock of false killer whales and other Hawaiian odontocetes. PMID:25134676

  13. Assessing the coastal occurrence of endangered killer whales using autonomous passive acoustic recorders.

    PubMed

    Hanson, M Bradley; Emmons, Candice K; Ward, Eric J; Nystuen, Jeffrey A; Lammers, Marc O

    2013-11-01

    Using moored autonomous acoustic recorders to detect and record the vocalizations of social odonotocetes to determine their occurrence patterns is a non-invasive tool in the study of these species in remote locations. Acoustic recorders were deployed in seven locations on the continental shelf of the U.S. west coast from Cape Flattery, WA to Pt. Reyes, CA to detect and record endangered southern resident killer whales between January and June of 2006-2011. Detection rates of these whales were greater in 2009 and 2011 than in 2006-2008, were most common in the month of March, and occurred with the greatest frequency off the Columbia River and Westport, which was likely related to the presence of their most commonly consumed prey, Chinook salmon. The observed patterns of annual and monthly killer whale occurrence may be related to run strength and run timing, respectively, for spring Chinook returning to the Columbia River, the largest run in this region at this time of year. Acoustic recorders provided a unique, long-term, dataset that will be important to inform future consideration of Critical Habitat designation for this U.S. Endangered Species Act listed species. PMID:24180759

  14. Variations in killer whale food-associated calls produced during different prey behavioural contexts.

    PubMed

    Samarra, Filipa I P

    2015-07-01

    Killer whales produce herding calls to increase herring school density but previous studies suggested that these calls were made only when feeding upon spawning herring. Herring schools less densely when spawning compared to overwintering; therefore, producing herding calls may be advantageous only when feeding upon less dense spawning schools. To investigate if herding calls were produced across different prey behavioural contexts and whether structural variants occurred and correlated with prey behaviour, this study recorded killer whales when feeding upon spawning and overwintering herring. Herding calls were produced by whales feeding on both spawning and overwintering herring, however, calls recorded during overwintering had significantly different duration and peak frequency to those recorded during spawning. Calls recorded in herring overwintering grounds were more variable and sometimes included nonlinear phenomena. Thus, herding calls were not produced exclusively when feeding upon spawning herring, likely because the call increases feeding efficiency regardless of herring school density or behaviour. Variations in herding call structure were observed between prey behavioural contexts and did not appear to be adapted to prey characteristics. Herding call structural variants may be more likely a result of individual or group variation rather than a reflection of properties of the food source. PMID:25934134

  15. Sperm whales reduce foraging effort during exposure to 1-2 kHz sonar and killer whale sounds.

    PubMed

    Isojunno, Saana; Cure, Charlotte; Kvadsheim, Petter Helgevold; Lam, Frans-Peter Alexander; Tyack, Peter Lloyd; Wensveen, Paul Jacobus; Miller, Patrick James O'Malley

    2016-01-01

    The time and energetic costs of behavioral responses to incidental and experimental sonar exposures, as well as control stimuli, were quantified using hidden state analysis of time series of acoustic and movement data recorded by tags (DTAG) attached to 12 sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) using suction cups. Behavioral state transition modeling showed that tagged whales switched to a non-foraging, non-resting state during both experimental transmissions of low-frequency active sonar from an approaching vessel (LFAS; 1-2 kHz, source level 214 dB re 1 µPa m, four tag records) and playbacks of potential predator (killer whale, Orcinus orca) sounds broadcast at naturally occurring sound levels as a positive control from a drifting boat (five tag records). Time spent in foraging states and the probability of prey capture attempts were reduced during these two types of exposures with little change in overall locomotion activity, suggesting an effect on energy intake with no immediate compensation. Whales switched to the active non-foraging state over received sound pressure levels of 131-165 dB re 1 µPa during LFAS exposure. In contrast, no changes in foraging behavior were detected in response to experimental negative controls (no-sonar ship approach or noise control playback) or to experimental medium-frequency active sonar exposures (MFAS; 6-7 kHz, source level 199 re 1 µPa m, received sound pressure level [SPL] = 73-158 dB re 1 µPa). Similarly, there was no reduction in foraging effort for three whales exposed to incidental, unidentified 4.7-5.1 kHz sonar signals received at lower levels (SPL = 89-133 dB re 1 µPa). These results demonstrate that similar to predation risk, exposure to sonar can affect functional behaviors, and indicate that increased perception of risk with higher source level or lower frequency may modulate how sperm whales respond to anthropogenic sound. PMID:27039511

  16. Geographic and temporal dynamics of a global radiation and diversification in the killer whale.

    PubMed

    Morin, Phillip A; Parsons, Kim M; Archer, Frederick I; Ávila-Arcos, María C; Barrett-Lennard, Lance G; Dalla Rosa, Luciano; Duchêne, Sebastián; Durban, John W; Ellis, Graeme M; Ferguson, Steven H; Ford, John K; Ford, Michael J; Garilao, Cristina; Gilbert, M Thomas P; Kaschner, Kristin; Matkin, Craig O; Petersen, Stephen D; Robertson, Kelly M; Visser, Ingrid N; Wade, Paul R; Ho, Simon Y W; Foote, Andrew D

    2015-08-01

    Global climate change during the Late Pleistocene periodically encroached and then released habitat during the glacial cycles, causing range expansions and contractions in some species. These dynamics have played a major role in geographic radiations, diversification and speciation. We investigate these dynamics in the most widely distributed of marine mammals, the killer whale (Orcinus orca), using a global data set of over 450 samples. This marine top predator inhabits coastal and pelagic ecosystems ranging from the ice edge to the tropics, often exhibiting ecological, behavioural and morphological variation suggestive of local adaptation accompanied by reproductive isolation. Results suggest a rapid global radiation occurred over the last 350 000 years. Based on habitat models, we estimated there was only a 15% global contraction of core suitable habitat during the last glacial maximum, and the resources appeared to sustain a constant global effective female population size throughout the Late Pleistocene. Reconstruction of the ancestral phylogeography highlighted the high mobility of this species, identifying 22 strongly supported long-range dispersal events including interoceanic and interhemispheric movement. Despite this propensity for geographic dispersal, the increased sampling of this study uncovered very few potential examples of ancestral dispersal among ecotypes. Concordance of nuclear and mitochondrial data further confirms genetic cohesiveness, with little or no current gene flow among sympatric ecotypes. Taken as a whole, our data suggest that the glacial cycles influenced local populations in different ways, with no clear global pattern, but with secondary contact among lineages following long-range dispersal as a potential mechanism driving ecological diversification. PMID:26087773

  17. Concentrations of organotin compounds in the stranded killer whales from Rausu, Hokkaido, Japan.

    PubMed

    Harino, Hiroya; Ohji, Madoka; Brownell, Robert L; Arai, Takaomi; Miyazaki, Nobuyuki

    2008-07-01

    We measured the concentrations of butyltin (BT) and phenyltin (PT) compounds in blubber, liver, lung, and muscle of seven stranded killer whales (Orcinus orca) collected from Rausu, Hokkaido, Japan. BTs in blubber (n = 6), liver (n = 4), lung (n = 1), and muscle (n = 4) of adult whale were in the range of 37-90, 385-676, 15, and 26-53 microg kg(-1) wet weight, respectively. Concentrations of PTs in blubber, liver, lung, and muscle were <1 to 58, <1 to 14, 7 and <1 to 4 microg kg(-1) wet weight, respectively. Detected frequencies of PTs were low in all tissues. Higher percentages of monobutyltin (MBT) in blubber, lung, and muscle were observed, while the percentage of dibutyltin (DBT) was high in liver. Detected frequencies of triphenyltin (TPT) were highest among tissues. Total BT concentrations in blubber and liver of a whale calf were lower than those in adult whales. MBT and DBT in the liver of the calf were the same (42%). MBT in blubber was the dominant compound among BTs. PMID:18166983

  18. The structure of stereotyped calls reflects kinship and social affiliation in resident killer whales (Orcinus orca).

    PubMed

    Deecke, Volker B; Barrett-Lennard, Lance G; Spong, Paul; Ford, John K B

    2010-05-01

    A few species of mammals produce group-specific vocalisations that are passed on by learning, but the function of learned vocal variation remains poorly understood. Resident killer whales live in stable matrilineal groups with repertoires of seven to 17 stereotyped call types. Some types are shared among matrilines, but their structure typically shows matriline-specific differences. Our objective was to analyse calls of nine killer whale matrilines in British Columbia to test whether call similarity primarily reflects social or genetic relationships. Recordings were made in 1985-1995 in the presence of focal matrilines that were either alone or with groups with non-overlapping repertoires. We used neural network discrimination performance to measure the similarity of call types produced by different matrilines and determined matriline association rates from 757 encounters with one or more focal matrilines. Relatedness was measured by comparing variation at 11 microsatellite loci for the oldest female in each group. Call similarity was positively correlated with association rates for two of the three call types analysed. Similarity of the N4 call type was also correlated with matriarch relatedness. No relationship between relatedness and association frequency was detected. These results show that call structure reflects relatedness and social affiliation, but not because related groups spend more time together. Instead, call structure appears to play a role in kin recognition and shapes the association behaviour of killer whale groups. Our results therefore support the hypothesis that increasing social complexity plays a role in the evolution of learned vocalisations in some mammalian species. PMID:20213302

  19. The structure of stereotyped calls reflects kinship and social affiliation in resident killer whales ( Orcinus orca)

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Deecke, Volker B.; Barrett-Lennard, Lance G.; Spong, Paul; Ford, John K. B.

    2010-05-01

    A few species of mammals produce group-specific vocalisations that are passed on by learning, but the function of learned vocal variation remains poorly understood. Resident killer whales live in stable matrilineal groups with repertoires of seven to 17 stereotyped call types. Some types are shared among matrilines, but their structure typically shows matriline-specific differences. Our objective was to analyse calls of nine killer whale matrilines in British Columbia to test whether call similarity primarily reflects social or genetic relationships. Recordings were made in 1985-1995 in the presence of focal matrilines that were either alone or with groups with non-overlapping repertoires. We used neural network discrimination performance to measure the similarity of call types produced by different matrilines and determined matriline association rates from 757 encounters with one or more focal matrilines. Relatedness was measured by comparing variation at 11 microsatellite loci for the oldest female in each group. Call similarity was positively correlated with association rates for two of the three call types analysed. Similarity of the N4 call type was also correlated with matriarch relatedness. No relationship between relatedness and association frequency was detected. These results show that call structure reflects relatedness and social affiliation, but not because related groups spend more time together. Instead, call structure appears to play a role in kin recognition and shapes the association behaviour of killer whale groups. Our results therefore support the hypothesis that increasing social complexity plays a role in the evolution of learned vocalisations in some mammalian species.

  20. Disproportionate emission of bubble streams with killer whale biphonic calls: perspectives on production and function.

    PubMed

    Bowles, Ann E; Grebner, Dawn M; Musser, Whitney B; Nash, Juliette S; Crance, Jessica L

    2015-02-01

    Stereotyped pulsed calls were attributed to 11 killer whales (Orcinus orca) with and without synchronous bubble streams in three datasets collected from two facilities from 1993 to 2012. Calls with and without synchronous bubble streams and divergent overlapping high frequency components ("biphonic" vs "monophonic") were compared. Subjects produced bubbles significantly more often when calls had divergent high frequency components. However, acoustic features in one biphonic call shared by five subjects provided little evidence for an acoustic effect of synchronous bubble flow. Disproportionate bubbling supported other evidence that biphonic calls form a distinct category, but suggested a function in short-range communication. PMID:25698045

  1. Acoustic characteristics of underwater tail slaps used by Norwegian and Icelandic killer whales (Orcinus orca) to debilitate herring (Clupea harengus).

    PubMed

    Simon, Malene; Wahlberg, Magnus; Ugarte, Fernando; Miller, Lee A

    2005-06-01

    Norwegian killer whales debilitate prey by slapping their tails into herring schools. These underwater tail slaps produce a thud-like sound. It is unclear whether this sound is caused by cavitation and/or physical contact between herring and whale tail. Also the forces causing debilitation of the fish are not understood. Here we present an acoustic analysis of underwater tail slaps using a multi-channel wide (150 kHz) band recording system. Underwater tail slaps produced by Norwegian killer whales generated sounds consisting of multiple pulses with source levels of 186+/-5.4 dB (pp) re.1 microPa at 1 m (+/-1 s.d., N = 4). The -3 dB and 97% energy bandwidths were 36.8+/-22.5 kHz and 130.5+/-17.5 kHz (+/-1 s.d., N = 13), respectively, with a centre frequency of 46.1+/-22.3 kHz. The similarities between the acoustic properties of underwater tail slaps recorded from killer whales in Norway, and thud-like sounds recorded from killer whales in Iceland suggest that Norwegian and Icelandic killer whales use similar hunting techniques. The acoustic characteristics of sounds produced by underwater tail slaps were similar to the ones from other cavitation sound sources described in the literature, both in term of temporal and frequency features as well as in source level. We suggest that multiple factors generated by the tail slaps like particle fluctuations, turbulence, pressure changes and physical impact cause debilitation of herring. PMID:15939784

  2. Ovarian cycle approach by rectal temperature and fecal progesterone in a female killer whale, Orcinus orca.

    PubMed

    Kusuda, Satoshi; Kakizoe, Yuka; Kanda, Koji; Sengoku, Tomoko; Fukumoto, Yohei; Adachi, Itsuki; Watanabe, Yoko; Doi, Osamu

    2011-01-01

    This study aimed to validate the measurements of body temperature and fecal progesterone concentrations as minimally invasive techniques for assessing ovarian cycle in a single sexually mature female killer whale. Rectal temperature data, fecal and blood samples were collected in the dorsal position using routine husbandry training on a voluntary basis. The correlations between rectal temperature and plasma progesterone concentration and between fecal and plasma progesterone concentrations were investigated. Fecal progesterone metabolites were identified by a combination of high-performance liquid chromatography and enzyme immunoassay. Plasma progesterone concentrations (range: 0.2-18.6 ng/ml) and rectal temperature (range: 35.3-35.9°C) changed cyclically, and cycle lengths were an average (±SD) of 44.9±4.0 days (nine cycles) and 44.6±5.9 days (nine cycles), respectively. Rectal temperature positively correlated with the plasma progesterone concentrations (r=0.641, P<0.01). There was a visual trend for fecal progesterone profiles to be similar to circulating plasma progesterone profiles. Fecal immunoreactive progestagen analysis resulted in a marked immunoreactive peak of progesterone. The data from the single killer whale indicate that the measurement of rectal temperature is suitable for minimally invasive assessment of the estrous cycle and monitoring the fecal progesterone concentration is useful to assess ovarian luteal activity. PMID:20648568

  3. Ocular anatomy, ganglion cell distribution and retinal resolution of a killer whale (Orcinus orca).

    PubMed

    Mass, Alla M; Supin, Alexander Y; Abramov, Andrey V; Mukhametov, Lev M; Rozanova, Elena I

    2013-01-01

    Retinal topography, cell density and sizes of ganglion cells in the killer whale (Orcinus orca) were analyzed in retinal whole mounts stained with cresyl violet. A distinctive feature of the killer whale's retina is the large size of ganglion cells and low cell density compared to terrestrial mammals. The ganglion cell diameter ranged from 8 to 100 µm, with the majority of cells within a range of 20-40 µm. The topographic distribution of ganglion cells displayed two spots of high cell density located in the temporal and nasal quadrants, 20 mm from the optic disk. The high-density areas were connected by a horizontal belt-like area passing below the optic disk of the retina. Peak cell densities in these areas were evaluated. Mean peak cell densities were 334 and 288 cells/mm(2) in the temporal and nasal high-density areas, respectively. With a posterior nodal distance of 19.5 mm, these high-density data predict a retinal resolution of 9.6' (3.1 cycles/deg.) and 12.6' (2.4 cycles/deg.) in the temporal and nasal areas, respectively, in water. PMID:23018493

  4. Modulation in Persistent Organic Pollutant Concentration and Profile by Prey Availability and Reproductive Status in Southern Resident Killer Whale Scat Samples.

    PubMed

    Lundin, Jessica I; Ylitalo, Gina M; Booth, Rebecca K; Anulacion, Bernadita; Hempelmann, Jennifer A; Parsons, Kim M; Giles, Deborah A; Seely, Elizabeth A; Hanson, M Bradley; Emmons, Candice K; Wasser, Samuel K

    2016-06-21

    Persistent organic pollutants (POPs), specifically PCBs, PBDEs, and DDTs, in the marine environment are well documented, however accumulation and mobilization patterns at the top of the food-web are poorly understood. This study broadens the understanding of POPs in the endangered Southern Resident killer whale population by addressing modulation by prey availability and reproductive status, along with endocrine disrupting effects. A total of 140 killer whale scat samples collected from 54 unique whales across a 4 year sampling period (2010-2013) were analyzed for concentrations of POPs. Toxicant measures were linked to pod, age, and birth order in genotyped individuals, prey abundance using open-source test fishery data, and pregnancy status based on hormone indices from the same sample. Toxicant concentrations were highest and had the greatest potential for toxicity when prey abundance was the lowest. In addition, these toxicants were likely from endogenous lipid stores. Bioaccumulation of POPs increased with age, with the exception of presumed nulliparous females. The exceptional pattern may be explained by females experiencing unobserved neonatal loss. Transfer of POPs through mobilization of endogenous lipid stores during lactation was highest for first-borns with diminished transfer to subsequent calves. Contrary to expectation, POP concentrations did not demonstrate an associated disruption of thyroid hormone, although this association may have been masked by impacts of prey abundance on thyroid hormone concentrations. The noninvasive method for measuring POP concentrations in killer whales through scat employed in this study may improve toxicant monitoring in the marine environment and promote conservation efforts. PMID:27186642

  5. Persistent organic pollutants and stable isotopes in biopsy samples (2004/2006) from Southern Resident killer whales.

    PubMed

    Krahn, Margaret M; Hanson, M Bradley; Baird, Robin W; Boyer, Richard H; Burrows, Douglas G; Emmons, Candice K; Ford, John K B; Jones, Linda L; Noren, Dawn P; Ross, Peter S; Schorr, Gregory S; Collier, Tracy K

    2007-12-01

    "Southern Resident" killer whales include three "pods" (J, K and L) that reside primarily in Puget Sound/Georgia Basin during the spring, summer and fall. This population was listed as "endangered" in the US and Canada following a 20% decline between 1996 and 2001. The current study, using blubber/epidermis biopsy samples, contributes contemporary information about potential factors (i.e., levels of pollutants or changes in diet) that could adversely affect Southern Residents. Carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes indicated J- and L-pod consumed prey from similar trophic levels in 2004/2006 and also showed no evidence for a large shift in the trophic level of prey consumed by L-pod between 1996 and 2004/2006. Sigma PCBs decreased for Southern Residents biopsied in 2004/2006 compared to 1993-1995. Surprisingly, however, a three-year-old male whale (J39) had the highest concentrations of Sigma PBDEs, Sigma HCHs and HCB. POP ratio differences between J- and L-pod suggested that they occupy different ranges in winter. PMID:17931664

  6. Assessment of current dietary intake of organochlorine contaminants and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in killer whales (Orcinus orca) through direct determination in a group of whales in captivity.

    PubMed

    Formigaro, Costanza; Henríquez-Hernandez, Luis A; Zaccaroni, Annalisa; Garcia-Hartmann, Manuel; Camacho, María; Boada, Luis D; Zumbado, Manuel; Luzardo, Octavio P

    2014-02-15

    We determined the levels of 16 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), 19 organochlorine pesticides (OCPs) and 18 polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in the plasma of captive adult killer whales and in their food. The goal of this research was the assessment of the dietary exposure of killer whales to these pollutants to gain insight on what is the actual magnitude of the exposure in this species, which is considered among the most contaminated in the planet. Plasma median ∑OCP and ∑PCB contents were 3150.3 and 7985.9 ng g(-1)l.w., respectively. A total of 78.9% of the PCBs were marker-PCBs, and 21.1% were dioxin-like PCBs (6688.7 pg g(-1)l.w. dioxin toxic equivalents). This is the first report of the blood levels of PAHs in killer whales, and their median value was 1023.1 ng g(-1)l.w. In parallel, we also determined the levels of these contaminants in the fish species that are used to feed these animals to estimate the orcas' average daily dietary intake of pollutants. All the contaminants in the fish were detected in the plasma of the killer whales, and proportionality between the intake and the blood levels was observed in all the animals. The calculated intake was extremely high for certain contaminants, which is a concern, giving a glimpse of what possibly occurs in the wild, where exposure to these contaminants can be even higher. Therefore, although many of these chemicals have been banned for decades, even today, the levels of these chemicals could reach very toxic concentrations in the tissues of these endangered animals because of their diet. PMID:24345864

  7. Evoked potential recording during echolocation in a false killer whale Pseudorca crassidens (L)

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Supin, Alexander Ya.; Nachtigall, Paul E.; Pawloski, Jeffrey; Au, Whitlow W. L.

    2003-05-01

    Auditory brainstem responses (ABRs) were recorded in a false killer whale while the animal echolocated a target. The ABR collection was triggered by echolocation clicks of the animal. In these conditions, the recorded ABR pattern contained a duplicate set of waves. A comparison of ABR wave delays recorded during echolocation with those recorded during regular external stimulation with experimenter generated clicks showed that the first set of waves may be a response to the emitted click whereas the second one may be a response to the echo. Both responses, to the emitted click and to the echo, were of comparable amplitude in spite of the intensity difference of these two sounds that may differ by more than 40 dB near the animal's head. This finding indicates the presence of some mechanism of releasing responses to echoes from masking by loud emitted clicks. The evoked-potential method may be productive to investigate these mechanisms.

  8. Source parameter estimates of echolocation clicks from wild pygmy killer whales (Feresa attenuata) (L)

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Madsen, P. T.; Kerr, I.; Payne, R.

    2004-10-01

    Pods of the little known pygmy killer whale (Feresa attenuata) in the northern Indian Ocean were recorded with a vertical hydrophone array connected to a digital recorder sampling at 320 kHz. Recorded clicks were directional, short (25 μs) transients with estimated source levels between 197 and 223 dB re. 1 μPa (pp). Spectra of clicks recorded close to or on the acoustic axis were bimodal with peak frequencies between 45 and 117 kHz, and with centroid frequencies between 70 and 85 kHz. The clicks share characteristics of echolocation clicks from similar sized, whistling delphinids, and have properties suited for the detection and classification of prey targeted by this odontocete. .

  9. Localization of Southern Resident Killer Whales Using Two Star Arrays to Support Marine Renewable Energy

    SciTech Connect

    Ren, Huiying; Deng, Zhiqun; Carlson, Thomas J.; Sun, Yannan; Fu, Tao; Martinez, Jayson J.; Matzner, Shari; Myers, Joshua R.

    2012-10-19

    Tidal power has been identified as one of the most potential commercial-scale renewable energy sources. Puget Sound, Washington, is a potential site to deploy tidal power generating devices. The risk of injury for killer whales needs to be managed before the deployment of these types of devices can be approved by regulating authorities. A passive acoustic system consisting of two star arrays, each with four hydrophones, was designed and implemented for the detection and localization of Southern Resident killer whales. Deployment of the passive acoustic system was conducted at Sequim Bay, Washington. A total of nine test locations were chosen, within a radius of 250 m around the star arrays, to test our localization approach. For the localization algorithm, a least square solver was applied to obtain a bearing location from each star array. The final source location was determined by the intersection of the bearings given by each of the two star arrays. Bearing and distance errors were obtained to conduct comparison between the calculated and true (from Global Positioning System) locations. The results indicated that bearing errors were within 1.04º for eight of the test locations; one location had bearing errors slightly larger than expected due to the strong background noise at that position. For the distance errors, six of the test locations were within the range of 1.91 to 32.36 m. The other two test locations were near the intersection line between the centers of the two star arrays, which were expected to have large errors from the theoretical sensitivity analysis performed.

  10. Intra- and intergroup vocal behavior in resident killer whales, Orcinus orca.

    PubMed

    Weiss, Brigitte M; Symonds, Helena; Spong, Paul; Ladich, Friedrich

    2007-12-01

    Vocal communication within and between groups of individuals has been described extensively in birds and terrestrial mammals, however, little is known about how cetaceans utilize their sounds in their natural environment. Resident killer whales, Orcinus orca, live in highly stable matrilines and exhibit group-specific vocal dialects. Single call types cannot exclusively be associated with particular behaviors and calls are thought to function in group identification and intragroup communication. In the present study call usage of three closely related matrilines of the Northern resident community was compared in various intra- and intergroup contexts. In two out of the three matrilines significant changes in vocal behavior depending both on the presence and identity of accompanying whales were found. Most evidently, family-specific call subtypes, as well as aberrant and variable calls, were emitted at higher rates, whereas "low arousal" call types were used less in the presence of matrilines from different pods, subclans, or clans. Ways in which the observed changes may function both in intra- and intergroup communication. PMID:18247778

  11. Source-to-sensation level ratio of transmitted biosonar pulses in an echolocating false killer whale.

    PubMed

    Supin, Alexander Ya; Nachtigall, Paul E; Breese, Marlee

    2006-07-01

    Transmitted biosonar pulses, and the brain auditory evoked potentials (AEPs) associated with those pulses, were synchronously recorded in a false killer whale Pseudorca crassidens trained to accept suction-cup EEG electrodes and to detect targets by echolocation. AEP amplitude was investigated as a function of the transmitted biosonar pulse source level. For that, a few thousand of the individual AEP records were sorted according to the spontaneously varied amplitude of synchronously recorded biosonar pulses. In each of the sorting bins (in 5-dB steps) AEP records were averaged to extract AEP from noise; AEP amplitude was plotted as a function of the biosonar pulse source level. For comparison, AEPs were recorded to external (in free field) sound pulses of a waveform and spectrum similar to those of the biosonar pulses; amplitude of these AEPs was plotted as a function of sound pressure level. A comparison of these two functions has shown that, depending on the presence or absence of a target, the sensitivity of the whale's hearing to its own transmitted biosonar pulses was 30 to 45 dB lower than might be expected in a free acoustic field. PMID:16875248

  12. Killer whale caller localization using a hydrophone array in an oceanarium pool

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Bowles, Ann E.; Greenlaw, Charles F.; McGehee, Duncan E.; van Holliday, D.

    2001-05-01

    A system to localize calling killer whales was designed around a ten-hydrophone array in a pool at SeaWorld San Diego. The array consisted of nine ITC 8212 and one ITC 6050H hydrophones mounted in recessed 30×30 cm2 niches. Eight of the hydrophones were connected to a Compaq Armada E500 laptop computer through a National Instruments DAQ 6024E PCMCIA A/D data acquisition card and a BNC-2120 signal conditioner. The system was calibrated with a 139-dB, 4.5-kHz pinger. Acoustic data were collected during four 48-72 h recording sessions, simultaneously with video recorded from a four-camera array. Calling whales were localized by one of two methods, (1) at the hydrophone reporting the highest sound exposure level and (2) using custom-designed 3-D localization software based on time-of-arrival (ORCA). Complex reverberations in the niches and pool made locations based on time of arrival difficult to collect. Based on preliminary analysis of data from four sessions (400+ calls/session), the hydrophone reporting the highest level reliably attributed callers 51%-100% of the time. This represents a substantial improvement over attribution rates of 5%-15% obtained with single hydrophone recordings. [Funding provided by Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute and the Hubbs Society.

  13. Pulmonary zygomycosis with Cunninghamella bertholletiae in a killer whale (Orcinus orca).

    PubMed

    Abdo, W; Kakizoe, Y; Ryono, M; Dover, S R; Fukushi, H; Okuda, H; Kano, R; Shibahara, T; Okada, E; Sakai, H; Yanai, T

    2012-07-01

    An adult female killer whale (Orcinus orca) was transported to the Port of Nagoya public aquarium in June 2010. While the animal was being maintained in the aquarium there was a gradual decrease in body weight. On October 1st, 2010 the whale exhibited signs of gastrointestinal disease and died on January 14th, 2011. At necropsy examination the gastric compartments were filled with a large number of variably-sized rocks (total weight 81.4 kg) and there was marked ulceration in the third compartment. There were multifocal tubercle-like nodules within the lungs and on sectioning there were numerous abscesses and pulmonary cavities. Microscopically, there was severe suppurative pneumonia associated with fungal hyphae that were infrequently septate and often branched. Numerous bacterial colonies were also present. The hyphae demonstrated immunohistochemical cross-reactivity with Rhizomucor spp. and Cunninghamella bertholletiae was cultured. Bacteriological culture revealed the presence of Proteus mirabilis, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Pseudomonas oryzihabitans. This case represents the first documentation of zygomycosis associated with C. bertholletiae in a marine mammal. PMID:22000035

  14. Assessment of injuries and recovery monitoring of Prince William Sound killer whales using photo-identification techniques. Restoration project 93042/94092. Exxon Valdez oil spill restoration project final report

    SciTech Connect

    Dahlheim, M.E.

    1994-04-01

    Photo-identification studies of individual killer whales inhabitating Prince William Sound were collected from 1989-91 and from July to September 1993 to determine the impact of the spill on whale abundance and distribution (1989-1991) and monitor recovery (1993). Concurrent photo-identification studies were also conducted in Southeast Alaska to determine if PWS killer whales were displaced to other areas between 1989 and 1991. Despite increased effort, the number of encounters with PWS killer whales appears to be decreasing. The authors assume, that the whales are dead from natural causes, a result of interactions with fisheries, from the spill, or a combination of these causes.

  15. Echolocation signals of free-ranging killer whales (Orcinus orca) and modeling of foraging for chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha).

    PubMed

    Au, Whitlow W L; Ford, John K B; Horne, John K; Allman, Kelly A Newman

    2004-02-01

    Fish-eating "resident"-type killer whales (Orcinus orca) that frequent the coastal waters off northeastern Vancouver Island, Canada have a strong preference for chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha). The whales in this region often forage along steep cliffs that extend into the water, echolocating their prey. Echolocation signals of resident killer whales were measured with a four-hydrophone symmetrical star array and the signals were simultaneously digitized at a sample rate of 500 kHz using a lunch-box PC. A portable VCR recorded the images from an underwater camera located adjacent to the array center. Only signals emanating from close to the beam axis (1185 total) were chosen for a detailed analysis. Killer whales project very broadband echolocation signals (Q equal 0.9 to 1.4) that tend to have bimodal frequency structure. Ninety-seven percent of the signals had center frequencies between 45 and 80 kHz with bandwidths between 35 and 50 kHz. The peak-to-peak source level of the echolocation signals decreased as a function of the one-way transmission loss to the array. Source levels varied between 195 and 224 dB re: 1 microPa. Using a model of target strength for chinook salmon, the echo levels from the echolocation signals are estimated for different horizontal ranges between a whale and a salmon. At a horizontal range of 100 m, the echo level should exceed an Orcinus hearing threshold at 50 kHz by over 29 dB and should be greater than sea state 4 noise by at least 9 dB. In moderately heavy rain conditions, the detection range will be reduced substantially and the echo level at a horizontal range of 40 m would be close to the level of the rain noise. PMID:15000201

  16. Echolocation signals of free-ranging killer whales (Orcinus orca) and modeling of foraging for chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha)

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Au, Whitlow W. L.; Ford, John K. B.; Horne, John K.; Allman, Kelly A. Newman

    2004-02-01

    Fish-eating ``resident''-type killer whales (Orcinus orca) that frequent the coastal waters off northeastern Vancouver Island, Canada have a strong preference for chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha). The whales in this region often forage along steep cliffs that extend into the water, echolocating their prey. Echolocation signals of resident killer whales were measured with a four-hydrophone symmetrical star array and the signals were simultaneously digitized at a sample rate of 500 kHz using a lunch-box PC. A portable VCR recorded the images from an underwater camera located adjacent to the array center. Only signals emanating from close to the beam axis (1185 total) were chosen for a detailed analysis. Killer whales project very broadband echolocation signals (Q equal 0.9 to 1.4) that tend to have bimodal frequency structure. Ninety-seven percent of the signals had center frequencies between 45 and 80 kHz with bandwidths between 35 and 50 kHz. The peak-to-peak source level of the echolocation signals decreased as a function of the one-way transmission loss to the array. Source levels varied between 195 and 224 dB re:1 μPa. Using a model of target strength for chinook salmon, the echo levels from the echolocation signals are estimated for different horizontal ranges between a whale and a salmon. At a horizontal range of 100 m, the echo level should exceed an Orcinus hearing threshold at 50 kHz by over 29 dB and should be greater than sea state 4 noise by at least 9 dB. In moderately heavy rain conditions, the detection range will be reduced substantially and the echo level at a horizontal range of 40 m would be close to the level of the rain noise.

  17. Persistent Organic Pollutant Determination in Killer Whale Scat Samples: Optimization of a Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry Method and Application to Field Samples.

    PubMed

    Lundin, Jessica I; Dills, Russell L; Ylitalo, Gina M; Hanson, M Bradley; Emmons, Candice K; Schorr, Gregory S; Ahmad, Jacqui; Hempelmann, Jennifer A; Parsons, Kim M; Wasser, Samuel K

    2016-01-01

    Biologic sample collection in wild cetacean populations is challenging. Most information on toxicant levels is obtained from blubber biopsy samples; however, sample collection is invasive and strictly regulated under permit, thus limiting sample numbers. Methods are needed to monitor toxicant levels that increase temporal and repeat sampling of individuals for population health and recovery models. The objective of this study was to optimize measuring trace levels (parts per billion) of persistent organic pollutants (POPs), namely polychlorinated-biphenyls (PCBs), polybrominated-diphenyl-ethers (PBDEs), dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethanes (DDTs), and hexachlorocyclobenzene, in killer whale scat (fecal) samples. Archival scat samples, initially collected, lyophilized, and extracted with 70 % ethanol for hormone analyses, were used to analyze POP concentrations. The residual pellet was extracted and analyzed using gas chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry. Method detection limits ranged from 11 to 125 ng/g dry weight. The described method is suitable for p,p'-DDE, PCBs-138, 153, 180, and 187, and PBDEs-47 and 100; other POPs were below the limit of detection. We applied this method to 126 scat samples collected from Southern Resident killer whales. Scat samples from 22 adult whales also had known POP concentrations in blubber and demonstrated significant correlations (p < 0.01) between matrices across target analytes. Overall, the scat toxicant measures matched previously reported patterns from blubber samples of decreased levels in reproductive-age females and a decreased p,p'-DDE/∑PCB ratio in J-pod. Measuring toxicants in scat samples provides an unprecedented opportunity to noninvasively evaluate contaminant levels in wild cetacean populations; these data have the prospect to provide meaningful information for vital management decisions. PMID:26298464

  18. A small towed beamforming array to identify vocalizing resident killer whales ( Orcinus orca) concurrent with focal behavioral observations

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Miller, Patrick J.; Tyack, Peter L.

    Investigations of communication systems benefit from concurrent observation of vocal and visible behaviors of individual animals. A device has been developed to identify individual vocalizing resident killer whales ( Orcinus orca) during focal behavioral observations. The device consists of a 2-m, 15-element hydrophone array, which is easily towed behind a small vessel, on-board multi-channel recorders, and real-time signal processing equipment. Acoustic data from the hydrophones are digitized and processed using broadband frequency-domain beamforming to yield frequency-azimuth (FRAZ) and "directo-gram" displays of arriving sounds. Based upon statistical analysis of independent portions of typical killer whale calls, the precision of the angle-of-arrival estimate ranges from ±0° to ±2.5° with a mean precision of ±1.5°. Echolocation clicks also are resolved precisely with a typical -6 dB mainlobe width of ±2.0°. Careful positioning of the array relative to the animals minimizes the effects of depth ambiguities and allows identification of individual sources in many circumstances. Several strategies for identifying vocalizing individuals are discussed and an example of a successful identification is described. Use of the array with resident killer whales did not interfere with vessel maneuverability, animal tracking, or behavioral sampling of focal individuals. This localization technique has promise for advancing the abilities of researchers to conduct unbiased behavioral and acoustic sampling of individual free-ranging cetaceans.

  19. Evidence for vocal learning in juvenile male killer whales, Orcinus orca, from an adventitious cross-socializing experiment.

    PubMed

    Crance, Jessica L; Bowles, Ann E; Garver, Alan

    2014-04-15

    Killer whales (Orcinus orca) are thought to learn their vocal dialect. Dispersal in the species is rare, but effects of shifts in social association on the dialect can be studied under controlled conditions. Individual call repertoires and social association were measured in three adult female killer whales and three males (two juveniles and an adult) during two periods, 2001-2003 and 2005-2006. Three distinct dialect repertoires were represented among the subjects. An adventitious experiment in social change resulted from the birth of a calf and the transfer of two non-focal subjects in 2004. Across the two periods, 1691 calls were collected, categorized and attributed to individuals. Repertoire overlap for each subject dyad was compared with an index of association. During 2005-2006, the two juvenile males increased association with the unrelated adult male. By the end of the period, both had begun producing novel calls and call features characteristic of his repertoire. However, there was little or no reciprocal change and the adult females did not acquire his calls. Repertoire overlap and association were significantly correlated in the first period. In the second, median association time and repertoire similarity increased, but the relationship was only marginally significant. The results provided evidence that juvenile male killer whales are capable of learning new call types, possibly stimulated by a change in social association. The pattern of learning was consistent with a selective convergence of male repertoires. PMID:24744421

  20. Identifying Variations in Baseline Behavior of Killer Whales (Orcinus orca) to Contextualize Their Responses to Anthropogenic Noise.

    PubMed

    Samarra, Filipa I P; Miller, Patrick J O

    2016-01-01

    Determining the baseline behavior of a whale requires understanding natural variations occurring due to environmental context, such as changes in prey behavior. Killer whales feeding on herring consistently encircle herring schools; however, depth of feeding differs from near the surface in winter to deeper than 10 m in spring and summer. These variations in feeding depth are probably due to the depth of the prey and the balance between the costs and benefits of bringing schools of herring to the surface. Such variation in baseline behavior may incur different energetic costs and consequently change the motivation of whales to avoid a feeding area. Here, we discuss these variations in feeding behavior in the context of exposure to noise and interpret observed responses to simulated navy sonar signals. PMID:26611056

  1. Dose-response relationships for the onset of avoidance of sonar by free-ranging killer whales.

    PubMed

    Miller, Patrick J O; Antunes, Ricardo N; Wensveen, Paul J; Samarra, Filipa I P; Alves, Ana Catarina; Tyack, Peter L; Kvadsheim, Petter H; Kleivane, Lars; Lam, Frans-Peter A; Ainslie, Michael A; Thomas, Len

    2014-02-01

    Eight experimentally controlled exposures to 1-2 kHz or 6-7 kHz sonar signals were conducted with four killer whale groups. The source level and proximity of the source were increased during each exposure in order to reveal response thresholds. Detailed inspection of movements during each exposure session revealed sustained changes in speed and travel direction judged to be avoidance responses during six of eight sessions. Following methods developed for Phase-I clinical trials in human medicine, response thresholds ranging from 94 to 164 dB re 1 μPa received sound pressure level (SPL) were fitted to Bayesian dose-response functions. Thresholds did not consistently differ by sonar frequency or whether a group had previously been exposed, with a mean SPL response threshold of 142 ± 15 dB (mean ± s.d.). High levels of between- and within-individual variability were identified, indicating that thresholds depended upon other undefined contextual variables. The dose-response functions indicate that some killer whales started to avoid sonar at received SPL below thresholds assumed by the U.S. Navy. The predicted extent of habitat over which avoidance reactions occur depends upon whether whales responded to proximity or received SPL of the sonar or both, but was large enough to raise concerns about biological consequences to the whales. PMID:25234905

  2. Stable isotope ratios of carbon, nitrogen and oxygen in killer whales (Orcinus orca) stranded on the coast of Hokkaido, Japan.

    PubMed

    Endo, Tetsuya; Kimura, Osamu; Sato, Rie; Kobayashi, Mari; Matsuda, Ayaka; Matsuishi, Takashi; Haraguchi, Koichi

    2014-09-15

    We analyzed δ(13)C, δ(15)N and δ(18)O in the muscle and liver from killer whales stranded on the coast of Japan. The δ(15)N values in the muscle samples from calves were apparently higher than those in their lactating mothers, suggesting that nursing may result in the higher δ(15)N values in the muscle samples of calves. The δ(15)N value in the muscle samples of male and female whales, except for the calves, were positively correlated with the δ(13)C values and body length, suggesting that the increases in δ(15)N were due to the growth of the whales and increase in their trophic level. In contrast, the δ(18)O values in the muscle samples of female whales except for the calves were negatively correlated with the δ(13)C and δ(15)N values. The δ(18)O may be lower in whales occupying higher trophic positions (δ(15)N), although it might also be affected by geographic and climatic conditions. PMID:25080859

  3. Tracking niche variation over millennial timescales in sympatric killer whale lineages.

    PubMed

    Foote, Andrew D; Newton, Jason; Ávila-Arcos, María C; Kampmann, Marie-Louise; Samaniego, Jose A; Post, Klaas; Rosing-Asvid, Aqqalu; Sinding, Mikkel-Holger S; Gilbert, M Thomas P

    2013-10-01

    Niche variation owing to individual differences in ecology has been hypothesized to be an early stage of sympatric speciation. Yet to date, no study has tracked niche width over more than a few generations. In this study, we show the presence of isotopic niche variation over millennial timescales and investigate the evolutionary outcomes. Isotopic ratios were measured from tissue samples of sympatric killer whale Orcinus orca lineages from the North Sea, spanning over 10 000 years. Isotopic ratios spanned a range similar to the difference in isotopic values of two known prey items, herring Clupea harengus and harbour seal Phoca vitulina. Two proxies of the stage of speciation, lineage sorting of mitogenomes and genotypic clustering, were both weak to intermediate indicating that speciation has made little progress. Thus, our study confirms that even with the necessary ecological conditions, i.e. among-individual variation in ecology, it is difficult for sympatric speciation to progress in the face of gene flow. In contrast to some theoretical models, our empirical results suggest that sympatric speciation driven by among-individual differences in ecological niche is a slow process and may not reach completion. We argue that sympatric speciation is constrained in this system owing to the plastic nature of the behavioural traits under selection when hunting either mammals or fish. PMID:23945688

  4. Target distance-dependent variation of hearing sensitivity during echolocation in a false killer whale.

    PubMed

    Supin, Alexander Ya; Nachtigall, Paul E; Breese, Marlee

    2010-06-01

    Evidence of varying hearing sensitivity according to the target distance was obtained in a false killer whale Pseudorca crassidens during echolocation. Auditory evoked potentials (AEPs) triggered by echolocation clicks were recorded. The target distance varied from 1 to 6 m. The records contained AEPs to the self-heard emitted click and AEPs to the echoes. Mean level of echolocation clicks depended on distance (the longer the distance, the higher the click level), however, the effect of click level on AEP amplitude was eliminated by extracting AEPs to clicks of certain particular levels. The amplitude of the echo-provoked AEP was almost independent of distance, however, the amplitude of the AEP to the emitted click, did depend on distance within a range from 1 to 4 m: the longer the distance, the higher the amplitude. The latter result is interpreted as confirmational evidence that the animal is capable of varying hearing sensitivity according to target distance. The variation of hearing sensitivity may help to compensate for the echo attenuation with distance; as a secondary effect, this variation manifested itself in a variation of the amplitude of the AEP to emitted clicks. PMID:20550281

  5. Behavioral and auditory evoked potential audiograms of a false killer whale (Pseudorca crassidens).

    PubMed

    Yuen, Michelle M L; Nachtigall, Paul E; Breese, Marlee; Supin, Alexander Ya

    2005-10-01

    Behavioral and auditory evoked potential (AEP) audiograms of a false killer whale were measured using the same subject and experimental conditions. The objective was to compare and assess the correspondence of auditory thresholds collected by behavioral and electrophysiological techniques. Behavioral audiograms used 3-s pure-tone stimuli from 4 to 45 kHz, and were conducted with a go/no-go modified staircase procedure. AEP audiograms used 20-ms sinusoidally amplitude-modulated tone bursts from 4 to 45 kHz, and the electrophysiological responses were received through gold disc electrodes in rubber suction cups. The behavioral data were reliable and repeatable, with the region of best sensitivity between 16 and 24 kHz and peak sensitivity at 20 kHz. The AEP audiograms produced thresholds that were also consistent over time, with range of best sensitivity from 16 to 22.5 kHz and peak sensitivity at 22.5 kHz. Behavioral thresholds were always lower than AEP thresholds. However, AEP audiograms were completed in a shorter amount of time with minimum participation from the animal. These data indicated that behavioral and AEP techniques can be used successfully and interchangeably to measure cetacean hearing sensitivity. PMID:16266188

  6. Behavioral and auditory evoked potential audiograms of a false killer whale (Pseudorca crassidens)

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Yuen, Michelle M. L.; Nachtigall, Paul E.; Breese, Marlee; Supin, Alexander Ya.

    2005-10-01

    Behavioral and auditory evoked potential (AEP) audiograms of a false killer whale were measured using the same subject and experimental conditions. The objective was to compare and assess the correspondence of auditory thresholds collected by behavioral and electrophysiological techniques. Behavioral audiograms used 3-s pure-tone stimuli from 4 to 45 kHz, and were conducted with a go/no-go modified staircase procedure. AEP audiograms used 20-ms sinusoidally amplitude-modulated tone bursts from 4 to 45 kHz, and the electrophysiological responses were received through gold disc electrodes in rubber suction cups. The behavioral data were reliable and repeatable, with the region of best sensitivity between 16 and 24 kHz and peak sensitivity at 20 kHz. The AEP audiograms produced thresholds that were also consistent over time, with range of best sensitivity from 16 to 22.5 kHz and peak sensitivity at 22.5 kHz. Behavioral thresholds were always lower than AEP thresholds. However, AEP audiograms were completed in a shorter amount of time with minimum participation from the animal. These data indicated that behavioral and AEP techniques can be used successfully and interchangeably to measure cetacean hearing sensitivity.

  7. Tracking niche variation over millennial timescales in sympatric killer whale lineages

    PubMed Central

    Foote, Andrew D.; Newton, Jason; Ávila-Arcos, María C.; Kampmann, Marie-Louise; Samaniego, Jose A.; Post, Klaas; Rosing-Asvid, Aqqalu; Sinding, Mikkel-Holger S.; Gilbert, M. Thomas P.

    2013-01-01

    Niche variation owing to individual differences in ecology has been hypothesized to be an early stage of sympatric speciation. Yet to date, no study has tracked niche width over more than a few generations. In this study, we show the presence of isotopic niche variation over millennial timescales and investigate the evolutionary outcomes. Isotopic ratios were measured from tissue samples of sympatric killer whale Orcinus orca lineages from the North Sea, spanning over 10 000 years. Isotopic ratios spanned a range similar to the difference in isotopic values of two known prey items, herring Clupea harengus and harbour seal Phoca vitulina. Two proxies of the stage of speciation, lineage sorting of mitogenomes and genotypic clustering, were both weak to intermediate indicating that speciation has made little progress. Thus, our study confirms that even with the necessary ecological conditions, i.e. among-individual variation in ecology, it is difficult for sympatric speciation to progress in the face of gene flow. In contrast to some theoretical models, our empirical results suggest that sympatric speciation driven by among-individual differences in ecological niche is a slow process and may not reach completion. We argue that sympatric speciation is constrained in this system owing to the plastic nature of the behavioural traits under selection when hunting either mammals or fish. PMID:23945688

  8. An integrated approach to historical population assessment of the great whales: case of the New Zealand southern right whale.

    PubMed

    Jackson, Jennifer A; Carroll, Emma L; Smith, Tim D; Zerbini, Alexandre N; Patenaude, Nathalie J; Baker, C Scott

    2016-03-01

    Accurate estimation of historical abundance provides an essential baseline for judging the recovery of the great whales. This is particularly challenging for whales hunted prior to twentieth century modern whaling, as population-level catch records are often incomplete. Assessments of whale recovery using pre-modern exploitation indices are therefore rare, despite the intensive, global nature of nineteenth century whaling. Right whales (Eubalaena spp.) were particularly exploited: slow swimmers with strong fidelity to sheltered calving bays, the species made predictable and easy targets. Here, we present the first integrated population-level assessment of the whaling impact and pre-exploitation abundance of a right whale, the New Zealand southern right whale (E. australis). In this assessment, we use a Bayesian population dynamics model integrating multiple data sources: nineteenth century catches, genetic constraints on bottleneck size and individual sightings histories informing abundance and trend. Different catch allocation scenarios are explored to account for uncertainty in the population's offshore distribution. From a pre-exploitation abundance of 28 800-47 100 whales, nineteenth century hunting reduced the population to approximately 30-40 mature females between 1914 and 1926. Today, it stands at less than 12% of pre-exploitation abundance. Despite the challenges of reconstructing historical catches and population boundaries, conservation efforts of historically exploited species benefit from targets for ecological restoration. PMID:27069657

  9. An integrated approach to historical population assessment of the great whales: case of the New Zealand southern right whale

    PubMed Central

    Jackson, Jennifer A.; Carroll, Emma L.; Smith, Tim D.; Zerbini, Alexandre N.; Patenaude, Nathalie J.; Baker, C. Scott

    2016-01-01

    Accurate estimation of historical abundance provides an essential baseline for judging the recovery of the great whales. This is particularly challenging for whales hunted prior to twentieth century modern whaling, as population-level catch records are often incomplete. Assessments of whale recovery using pre-modern exploitation indices are therefore rare, despite the intensive, global nature of nineteenth century whaling. Right whales (Eubalaena spp.) were particularly exploited: slow swimmers with strong fidelity to sheltered calving bays, the species made predictable and easy targets. Here, we present the first integrated population-level assessment of the whaling impact and pre-exploitation abundance of a right whale, the New Zealand southern right whale (E. australis). In this assessment, we use a Bayesian population dynamics model integrating multiple data sources: nineteenth century catches, genetic constraints on bottleneck size and individual sightings histories informing abundance and trend. Different catch allocation scenarios are explored to account for uncertainty in the population's offshore distribution. From a pre-exploitation abundance of 28 800–47 100 whales, nineteenth century hunting reduced the population to approximately 30–40 mature females between 1914 and 1926. Today, it stands at less than 12% of pre-exploitation abundance. Despite the challenges of reconstructing historical catches and population boundaries, conservation efforts of historically exploited species benefit from targets for ecological restoration. PMID:27069657

  10. Retrospective characterization of ontogenetic shifts in killer whale diets via δ13C and δ15N analysis of teeth

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Newsome, Seth D.; Etnier, Michael A.; Monson, Daniel H.; Fogel, Marilyn L.

    2009-01-01

    Metabolically inert, accretionary structures such as the dentin growth layers in teeth provide a life history record of individual diet with near-annual resolution. We constructed ontogenetic δ13C and δ15N profiles by analyzing tooth dentin growth layers from 13 individual killer whales Orcinus orca collected in the eastern northeast Pacific Ocean between 1961 and 2003. The individuals sampled were 6 to 52 yr old, representing 2 ecotypes—resident and transient—collected across ~25° of latitude. The average isotopic values of transient individuals (n = 10) are consistent with a reliance on mammalian prey, while the average isotopic values of residents (n = 3) are consistent with piscivory. Regardless of ecotype, most individuals show a decrease in δ15N values of ~2.5‰ through the first 3 yr of life, roughly equivalent to a decrease of one trophic level. We interpret this as evidence of gradual weaning, after which, ontogenetic shifts in isotopic values are highly variable. A few individuals (n = 2) maintained relatively stable δ15N and δ13C values throughout the remainder of their lives, whereas δ15N values of most (n = 11) increased by ~1.5‰, suggestive of an ontogenetic increase in trophic level. Significant differences in mean δ13C and δ15N values among transients collected off California suggest that individuality in prey preferences may be prevalent within this ecotype. Our approach provides retrospective individual life history and dietary information that cannot be obtained through traditional field observations of free-ranging and elusive species such as killer whales, including unique historic ecological information that pre-dates modern studies. By providing insights into individual diet composition, stable isotope analysis of teeth and/or bones may be the only means of evaluating a number of hypothesized historical dietary shifts in killer whales of the northeast Pacific Ocean

  11. Retrospective characterization of ontogenetic shifts in killer whale diets via δ13C and δ15N analysis of teeth

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Newsome, Seth D.; Etnier, Michael A.; Monson, Daniel H.; Fogel, Marilyn L.

    2009-01-01

    Metabolically inert, accretionary structures such as the dentin growth layers in teeth provide a life history record of individual diet with near-annual resolution. We constructed ontogenetic ??13C and ??15N profiles by analyzing tooth dentin growth layers from 13 individual killer whales Orcinus orca collected in the eastern northeast Pacific Ocean between 1961 and 2003. The individuals sampled were 6 to 52 yr old, representing 2 ecotypes-resident and transient - collected across ???25?? of latitude. The average isotopic values of transient individuals (n = 10) are consistent with a reliance on mammalian prey, while the average isotopic values of residents (n = 3) are consistent with piscivory. Regardless of ecotype, most individuals show a decrease in ??15N values of ???2.5% through the first 3 yr of life, roughly equivalent to a decrease of one trophic level. We interpret this as evidence of gradual weaning, after which, ontogenetic shifts in isotopic values are highly variable. A few individuals (n = 2) maintained relatively stable ??15N and ??13C values throughout the remainder of their lives, whereas ??15N values of most (n = 11) increased by ???1.5%, suggestive of an ontogenetic increase in trophic level. Significant differences in mean ??13C and ??15N values among transients collected off California suggest that individuality in prey preferences may be prevalent within this ecotype. Our approach provides retrospective individual life history and dietary information that cannot be obtained through traditional field observations of free-ranging and elusive species such as killer whales, including unique historic ecological information that pre-dates modern studies. By providing insights into individual diet composition, stable isotope analysis of teeth and/or bones may be the only means of evaluating a number of hypothesized historical dietary shifts in killer whales of the northeast Pacific Ocean. ?? Inter-Research 2009.

  12. Pre-Whaling Genetic Diversity and Population Ecology in Eastern Pacific Gray Whales: Insights from Ancient DNA and Stable Isotopes

    PubMed Central

    Alter, S. Elizabeth; Newsome, Seth D.; Palumbi, Stephen R.

    2012-01-01

    Commercial whaling decimated many whale populations, including the eastern Pacific gray whale, but little is known about how population dynamics or ecology differed prior to these removals. Of particular interest is the possibility of a large population decline prior to whaling, as such a decline could explain the ∼5-fold difference between genetic estimates of prior abundance and estimates based on historical records. We analyzed genetic (mitochondrial control region) and isotopic information from modern and prehistoric gray whales using serial coalescent simulations and Bayesian skyline analyses to test for a pre-whaling decline and to examine prehistoric genetic diversity, population dynamics and ecology. Simulations demonstrate that significant genetic differences observed between ancient and modern samples could be caused by a large, recent population bottleneck, roughly concurrent with commercial whaling. Stable isotopes show minimal differences between modern and ancient gray whale foraging ecology. Using rejection-based Approximate Bayesian Computation, we estimate the size of the population bottleneck at its minimum abundance and the pre-bottleneck abundance. Our results agree with previous genetic studies suggesting the historical size of the eastern gray whale population was roughly three to five times its current size. PMID:22590499

  13. Shifting Gravel and the Acoustic Detection Range of Killer Whale Calls

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Bassett, C.; Thomson, J. M.; Polagye, B. L.; Wood, J.

    2012-12-01

    In environments suitable for tidal energy development, strong currents result in large bed stresses that mobilize sediments, producing sediment-generated noise. Sediment-generated noise caused by mobilization events can exceed noise levels attributed to other ambient noise sources at frequencies related to the diameters of the mobilized grains. At a site in Admiralty Inlet, Puget Sound, Washington, one year of ambient noise data (0.02 - 30 kHz) and current velocity data are combined. Peak currents at the site exceed 3.5 m/s. During slack currents, vessel traffic is the dominant noise source. When currents exceed 0.85 m/s noise level increases between 2 kHz and 30 kHz are correlated with near-bed currents and bed stress estimates. Acoustic spectrum levels during strong currents exceed quiescent slack tide conditions by 20 dB or more between 2 and 30 kHz. These frequencies are consistent with sound generated by the mobilization of gravel and pebbles. To investigate the implications of sediment-generated noise for post-installation passive acoustic monitoring of a planned tidal energy project, ambient noise conditions during slack currents and strong currents are combined with the characteristics of Southern Resident killer whale (Orcinus orca) vocalizations and sound propagation modeling. The reduction in detection range is estimated for common vocalizations under different ambient noise conditions. The importance of sediment-generated noise for passive acoustic monitoring at tidal energy sites for different marine mammal functional hearing groups and other sediment compositions are considered.

  14. Estimation of a Killer Whale (Orcinus orca) Population’s Diet Using Sequencing Analysis of DNA from Feces

    PubMed Central

    Ford, Michael J.; Hempelmann, Jennifer; Hanson, M. Bradley; Ayres, Katherine L.; Baird, Robin W.; Emmons, Candice K.; Lundin, Jessica I.; Schorr, Gregory S.; Wasser, Samuel K.; Park, Linda K.

    2016-01-01

    Estimating diet composition is important for understanding interactions between predators and prey and thus illuminating ecosystem function. The diet of many species, however, is difficult to observe directly. Genetic analysis of fecal material collected in the field is therefore a useful tool for gaining insight into wild animal diets. In this study, we used high-throughput DNA sequencing to quantitatively estimate the diet composition of an endangered population of wild killer whales (Orcinus orca) in their summer range in the Salish Sea. We combined 175 fecal samples collected between May and September from five years between 2006 and 2011 into 13 sample groups. Two known DNA composition control groups were also created. Each group was sequenced at a ~330bp segment of the 16s gene in the mitochondrial genome using an Illumina MiSeq sequencing system. After several quality controls steps, 4,987,107 individual sequences were aligned to a custom sequence database containing 19 potential fish prey species and the most likely species of each fecal-derived sequence was determined. Based on these alignments, salmonids made up >98.6% of the total sequences and thus of the inferred diet. Of the six salmonid species, Chinook salmon made up 79.5% of the sequences, followed by coho salmon (15%). Over all years, a clear pattern emerged with Chinook salmon dominating the estimated diet early in the summer, and coho salmon contributing an average of >40% of the diet in late summer. Sockeye salmon appeared to be occasionally important, at >18% in some sample groups. Non-salmonids were rarely observed. Our results are consistent with earlier results based on surface prey remains, and confirm the importance of Chinook salmon in this population’s summer diet. PMID:26735849

  15. The World's Most Isolated and Distinct Whale Population? Humpback Whales of the Arabian Sea

    PubMed Central

    Collins, Tim; Minton, Gianna; Findlay, Ken; Leslie, Matthew S.; Ponnampalam, Louisa; Baldwin, Robert; Rosenbaum, Howard

    2014-01-01

    A clear understanding of population structure is essential for assessing conservation status and implementing management strategies. A small, non-migratory population of humpback whales in the Arabian Sea is classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, an assessment constrained by a lack of data, including limited understanding of its relationship to other populations. We analysed 11 microsatellite markers and mitochondrial DNA sequences extracted from 67 Arabian Sea humpback whale tissue samples and compared them to equivalent datasets from the Southern Hemisphere and North Pacific. Results show that the Arabian Sea population is highly distinct; estimates of gene flow and divergence times suggest a Southern Indian Ocean origin but indicate that it has been isolated for approximately 70,000 years, remarkable for a species that is typically highly migratory. Genetic diversity values are significantly lower than those obtained for Southern Hemisphere populations and signatures of ancient and recent genetic bottlenecks were identified. Our findings suggest this is the world's most isolated humpback whale population, which, when combined with low population abundance estimates and anthropogenic threats, raises concern for its survival. We recommend an amendment of the status of the population to “Critically Endangered” on the IUCN Red List. PMID:25470144

  16. The world's most isolated and distinct whale population? Humpback whales of the Arabian Sea.

    PubMed

    Pomilla, Cristina; Amaral, Ana R; Collins, Tim; Minton, Gianna; Findlay, Ken; Leslie, Matthew S; Ponnampalam, Louisa; Baldwin, Robert; Rosenbaum, Howard

    2014-01-01

    A clear understanding of population structure is essential for assessing conservation status and implementing management strategies. A small, non-migratory population of humpback whales in the Arabian Sea is classified as "Endangered" on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, an assessment constrained by a lack of data, including limited understanding of its relationship to other populations. We analysed 11 microsatellite markers and mitochondrial DNA sequences extracted from 67 Arabian Sea humpback whale tissue samples and compared them to equivalent datasets from the Southern Hemisphere and North Pacific. Results show that the Arabian Sea population is highly distinct; estimates of gene flow and divergence times suggest a Southern Indian Ocean origin but indicate that it has been isolated for approximately 70,000 years, remarkable for a species that is typically highly migratory. Genetic diversity values are significantly lower than those obtained for Southern Hemisphere populations and signatures of ancient and recent genetic bottlenecks were identified. Our findings suggest this is the world's most isolated humpback whale population, which, when combined with low population abundance estimates and anthropogenic threats, raises concern for its survival. We recommend an amendment of the status of the population to "Critically Endangered" on the IUCN Red List. PMID:25470144

  17. Out of the Pacific and back again: insights into the matrilineal history of Pacific killer whale ecotypes.

    PubMed

    Foote, Andrew D; Morin, Phillip A; Durban, John W; Willerslev, Eske; Orlando, Ludovic; Gilbert, M Thomas P

    2011-01-01

    Killer whales (Orcinus orca) are the most widely distributed marine mammals and have radiated to occupy a range of ecological niches. Disparate sympatric types are found in the North Atlantic, Antarctic and North Pacific oceans, however, little is known about the underlying mechanisms driving divergence. Previous phylogeographic analysis using complete mitogenomes yielded a bifurcating tree of clades corresponding to described ecotypes. However, there was low support at two nodes at which two Pacific and two Atlantic clades diverged. Here we apply further phylogenetic and coalescent analyses to partitioned mitochondrial genome sequences to better resolve the pattern of past radiations in this species. Our phylogenetic reconstructions indicate that in the North Pacific, sympatry between the maternal lineages that make up each ecotype arises from secondary contact. Both the phylogenetic reconstructions and a clinal decrease in diversity suggest a North Pacific to North Atlantic founding event, and the later return of killer whales to the North Pacific. Therefore, ecological divergence could have occurred during the allopatric phase through drift or selection and/or may have either commenced or have been consolidated upon secondary contact due to resource competition. The estimated timing of bidirectional migration between the North Pacific and North Atlantic coincided with the previous inter-glacial when the leakage of fauna from the Indo-Pacific into the Atlantic via the Agulhas current was particularly vigorous. PMID:21949818

  18. Out of the Pacific and Back Again: Insights into the Matrilineal History of Pacific Killer Whale Ecotypes

    PubMed Central

    Foote, Andrew D.; Morin, Phillip A.; Durban, John W.; Willerslev, Eske; Orlando, Ludovic; Gilbert, M. Thomas P.

    2011-01-01

    Killer whales (Orcinus orca) are the most widely distributed marine mammals and have radiated to occupy a range of ecological niches. Disparate sympatric types are found in the North Atlantic, Antarctic and North Pacific oceans, however, little is known about the underlying mechanisms driving divergence. Previous phylogeographic analysis using complete mitogenomes yielded a bifurcating tree of clades corresponding to described ecotypes. However, there was low support at two nodes at which two Pacific and two Atlantic clades diverged. Here we apply further phylogenetic and coalescent analyses to partitioned mitochondrial genome sequences to better resolve the pattern of past radiations in this species. Our phylogenetic reconstructions indicate that in the North Pacific, sympatry between the maternal lineages that make up each ecotype arises from secondary contact. Both the phylogenetic reconstructions and a clinal decrease in diversity suggest a North Pacific to North Atlantic founding event, and the later return of killer whales to the North Pacific. Therefore, ecological divergence could have occurred during the allopatric phase through drift or selection and/or may have either commenced or have been consolidated upon secondary contact due to resource competition. The estimated timing of bidirectional migration between the North Pacific and North Atlantic coincided with the previous inter-glacial when the leakage of fauna from the Indo-Pacific into the Atlantic via the Agulhas current was particularly vigorous. PMID:21949818

  19. In vitro sperm characterization and development of a sperm cryopreservation method using directional solidification in the killer whale (Orcinus orca).

    PubMed

    Robeck, T R; Gearhart, S A; Steinman, K J; Katsumata, E; Loureiro, J D; O'Brien, J K

    2011-07-15

    Research was conducted to characterize seminal traits and to develop a sperm cryopreservation method using directional freezing (DF) for the killer whale (Orcinus orca). Experiments evaluated effects of: (i) freezing rate (SLOW, MED, FAST) by diluent (BF5F, Biladyl®, EYC) in 0.5 mL straws; and (ii) freezing method (straw or DF) by glycerol (3, 6, or 9% final concentration, v:v) on in vitro sperm quality. Fresh ejaculates (n = 161) were (mean ± SD) 7.8 ± 7.4 mL at 740 × 10(6) sperm/mL with 92.2 ± 6.3% total motility (TM), 85.4 ± 6.9% progressive motility (PM), 89.6 ± 9.0% viability and 89.8 ± 9.2% acrosome integrity. Samples frozen using straws by the MED or SLOW method were improved (P < 0.05) over FAST across all diluents. At 3 h post thaw (PT), TM, PM, Rapid motility (RM), VAP, VCL, ALH and viability for 3% and 6% glycerol were improved (P < 0.05) over 9% glycerol. Directional freezing samples at 0 h and 3 h PT, at all glycerol concentrations, displayed higher (P < 0.001) TM, PM, RM, VAP, VSL, VCL and viability /intact acrosomes (PI/FITC-PNA) than straw. These data provided the first information on ejaculate characteristics and the development of a semen cryopreservation method using DF in the killer whale. PMID:21496896

  20. Bioaccumulation and enantiomeric profiling of organochlorine pesticides and persistent organic pollutants in the killer whale (Orcinus orca) from British and Irish waters.

    PubMed

    McHugh, Brendan; Law, Robin J; Allchin, Colin R; Rogan, Emer; Murphy, Sinead; Foley, M Barry; Glynn, Denise; McGovern, Evin

    2007-11-01

    Concentrations and enantiomeric profiles for a range of organochlorine compounds are reported in blubber samples from a number of individual killer whales (Orcinus orca) from British and Irish waters. Elevated contaminant levels and enriched isotopic ratios were determined in one individual whale sampled in the Scottish Western Isles compared to the others suggesting marine mammal based dietary influences. The potential application of isotopic ratios to model contaminant uptake, enantioselective enrichment and accumulation is demonstrated. Data are presented which provide information on enantioselective enrichment factors (EFs) for o,p'-DDT, alpha-HCH and toxaphene congeners CHB26 and CHB 50. This dataset further improves the current database on reported levels of a number of contaminants and provides additional background information on potential metabolic processes in killer whales from British and Irish waters. PMID:17854842

  1. Diurnal and annual changes in serum cortisol concentrations in Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins Tursiops aduncus and killer whales Orcinus orca.

    PubMed

    Suzuki, Miwa; Uchida, Senzo; Ueda, Keiichi; Tobayama, Teruo; Katsumata, Etsuko; Yoshioka, Motoi; Aida, Katsumi

    2003-07-01

    Until present, fundamental studies on cortisol secretory patterns have not been conducted in cetaceans. The objectives of this study were: (1) to examine diurnal changes in serum cortisol concentrations in Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins Tursiops aduncus and killer whales Orcinus orca, (2) to investigate annual cortisol changes in killer whales, and (3) to investigate the relationship between cortisol and sex steroids (testosterone and progesterone) concentrations in killer whales. Diurnal changes in serum cortisol concentrations were investigated at various intervals in the two species. In Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins, serum cortisol levels exhibited the same episodic fluctuations for 24 h as did diurnal terrestrial mammals: cortisol levels were lower at 18:00 h and higher in the early morning. In killer whales, cortisol concentrations continued to decrease until 18:00 h, after which they fluctuated, and then increased in the next morning. Annual changes in cortisol levels were investigated by collecting blood samples every two weeks from two male killer whales and a pregnant female one twice per day (during 09:00-10:00 and 16:00-17:00 h) throughout a one-year period. Regarding sera collected during 09:00-10:00 h from the female, cortisol concentrations showed cyclic changes having about 4-month intervals. In males, cortisol showed higher concentrations in winter and lower concentrations during the summer season. There was a negative correlation between cortisol and progesterone levels in the female and a negative correlation was also observed between cortisol and testosterone in male no. 2. In the female and male no. 1, cortisol levels during 09:00-10:00 h were significantly higher than those during 16:00-17:00 h, and their data are considered to support observations regarding diurnal changes in cortisol levels in the two cetacean species. PMID:12849966

  2. Towards population-level conservation in the critically endangered Antarctic blue whale: the number and distribution of their populations

    PubMed Central

    Attard, Catherine R. M.; Beheregaray, Luciano B.; Möller, Luciana M.

    2016-01-01

    Population-level conservation is required to prevent biodiversity loss within a species, but it first necessitates determining the number and distribution of populations. Many whale populations are still depleted due to 20th century whaling. Whales are one of the most logistically difficult and expensive animals to study because of their mobility, pelagic lifestyle and often remote habitat. We tackle the question of population structure in the Antarctic blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus intermedia) – a critically endangered subspecies and the largest extant animal – by capitalizing on the largest genetic dataset to date for Antarctic blue whales. We found evidence of three populations that are sympatric in the Antarctic feeding grounds and likely occupy separate breeding grounds. Our study adds to knowledge of population structure in the Antarctic blue whale. Future research should invest in locating the breeding grounds and migratory routes of Antarctic blue whales through satellite telemetry to confirm their population structure and allow population-level conservation. PMID:26951747

  3. Towards population-level conservation in the critically endangered Antarctic blue whale: the number and distribution of their populations

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Attard, Catherine R. M.; Beheregaray, Luciano B.; Möller, Luciana M.

    2016-03-01

    Population-level conservation is required to prevent biodiversity loss within a species, but it first necessitates determining the number and distribution of populations. Many whale populations are still depleted due to 20th century whaling. Whales are one of the most logistically difficult and expensive animals to study because of their mobility, pelagic lifestyle and often remote habitat. We tackle the question of population structure in the Antarctic blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus intermedia) – a critically endangered subspecies and the largest extant animal – by capitalizing on the largest genetic dataset to date for Antarctic blue whales. We found evidence of three populations that are sympatric in the Antarctic feeding grounds and likely occupy separate breeding grounds. Our study adds to knowledge of population structure in the Antarctic blue whale. Future research should invest in locating the breeding grounds and migratory routes of Antarctic blue whales through satellite telemetry to confirm their population structure and allow population-level conservation.

  4. Towards population-level conservation in the critically endangered Antarctic blue whale: the number and distribution of their populations.

    PubMed

    Attard, Catherine R M; Beheregaray, Luciano B; Möller, Luciana M

    2016-01-01

    Population-level conservation is required to prevent biodiversity loss within a species, but it first necessitates determining the number and distribution of populations. Many whale populations are still depleted due to 20th century whaling. Whales are one of the most logistically difficult and expensive animals to study because of their mobility, pelagic lifestyle and often remote habitat. We tackle the question of population structure in the Antarctic blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus intermedia) - a critically endangered subspecies and the largest extant animal - by capitalizing on the largest genetic dataset to date for Antarctic blue whales. We found evidence of three populations that are sympatric in the Antarctic feeding grounds and likely occupy separate breeding grounds. Our study adds to knowledge of population structure in the Antarctic blue whale. Future research should invest in locating the breeding grounds and migratory routes of Antarctic blue whales through satellite telemetry to confirm their population structure and allow population-level conservation. PMID:26951747

  5. Variation in the emission rate of sounds in a captive group of false killer whales Pseudorca crassidens during feedings: possible food anticipatory vocal activity?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Platto, Sara; Wang, Ding; Wang, Kexiong

    2015-11-01

    This study examines whether a group of captive false killer whales (Pseudorca crassidens ) showed variations in the vocal rate around feeding times. The high level of motivation to express appetitive behaviors in captive animals may lead them to respond with changes of the behavioral activities during the time prior to food deliveries which are referred to as food anticipatory activity. False killer whales at Qingdao Polar Ocean World (Qingdao, China) showed significant variations of the rates of both the total sounds and sound classes (whistles, clicks, and burst pulses) around feedings. Precisely, from the Transition interval that recorded the lowest vocalization rate (3.40 s/m/d), the whales increased their acoustic emissions upon trainers' arrival (13.08 s/m/d). The high rate was maintained or intensified throughout the food delivery (25.12 s/m/d), and then reduced immediately after the animals were fed (9.91 s/m/d). These changes in the false killer whales sound production rates around feeding times supports the hypothesis of the presence of a food anticipatory vocal activity. Although sound rates may not give detailed information regarding referential aspects of the animal communication it might still shed light about the arousal levels of the individuals during different social or environmental conditions. Further experiments should be performed to assess if variations of the time of feeding routines may affect the vocal activity of cetaceans in captivity as well as their welfare.

  6. Linking the occurrence of cutaneous opportunistic fungal invaders with elemental concentrations in false killer whale (Pseudorca crassidens) skin.

    PubMed

    Mouton, Marnel; Przybylowicz, Wojciech; Mesjasz-Przybylowicz, Jolanta; Postma, Ferdinand; Thornton, Meredith; Archer, Edward; Botha, Alfred

    2015-10-01

    Cetaceans, occupying the top levels in marine food chains, are vulnerable to elevated levels of potentially toxic trace elements, such as aluminium (Al), mercury (Hg) and nickel (Ni). Negative effects associated with these toxic metals include infection by opportunistic microbial invaders. To corroborate the link between the presence of cutaneous fungal invaders and trace element levels, skin samples from 40 stranded false killer whales (FKWs) were analysed using culture techniques and inductively coupled plasma-mass spectroscopy. Twenty-two skin samples yielded 18 clinically relevant fungal species. While evidence for bioaccumulation of Hg in the skin of the FKWs was observed, a strong link was found to exist between the occurrence of opportunistic fungal invaders and higher Al : Se and Al : Zn ratios. This study provides indications that elevated levels of some toxic metals, such as Al, contribute to immunotoxicity rendering FKWs susceptible to colonization by cutaneous opportunistic fungal invaders. PMID:26034019

  7. Spectral Tuning of Killer Whale (Orcinus orca) Rhodopsin: Evidence for Positive Selection and Functional Adaptation in a Cetacean Visual Pigment.

    PubMed

    Dungan, Sarah Z; Kosyakov, Alexander; Chang, Belinda S W

    2016-02-01

    Cetaceans have undergone a remarkable evolutionary transition that was accompanied by many sensory adaptations, including modification of the visual system for underwater environments. Recent sequencing of cetacean genomes has made it possible to begin exploring the molecular basis of these adaptations. In this study we use in vitro expression methods to experimentally characterize the first step of the visual transduction cascade, the light activation of rhodopsin, for the killer whale. To investigate the spectral effects of amino acid substitutions thought to correspond with absorbance shifts relative to terrestrial mammals, we used the orca gene as a background for the first site-directed mutagenesis experiments in a cetacean rhodopsin. The S292A mutation had the largest effect, and was responsible for the majority of the spectral difference between killer whale and bovine (terrestrial) rhodopsin. Using codon-based likelihood models, we also found significant evidence for positive selection in cetacean rhodopsin sequences, including on spectral tuning sites we experimentally mutated. We then investigated patterns of ecological divergence that may be correlated with rhodopsin functional variation by using a series of clade models that partitioned the data set according to phylogeny, habitat, and foraging depth zone. Only the model partitioning according to depth was significant. This suggests that foraging dives might be a selective regime influencing cetacean rhodopsin divergence, and our experimental results indicate that spectral tuning may be playing an adaptive role in this process. Our study demonstrates that combining computational and experimental methods is crucial for gaining insight into the selection pressures underlying molecular evolution. PMID:26486871

  8. Live CT imaging of sound reception anatomy and hearing measurements in the pygmy killer whale, Feresa attenuata.

    PubMed

    Montie, Eric W; Manire, Charlie A; Mann, David A

    2011-03-15

    In June 2008, two pygmy killer whales (Feresa attenuata) were stranded alive near Boca Grande, FL, USA, and were taken into rehabilitation. We used this opportunity to learn about the peripheral anatomy of the auditory system and hearing sensitivity of these rare toothed whales. Three-dimensional (3-D) reconstructions of head structures from X-ray computed tomography (CT) images revealed mandibles that were hollow, lacked a bony lamina medial to the pan bone and contained mandibular fat bodies that extended caudally and abutted the tympanoperiotic complex. Using auditory evoked potential (AEP) procedures, the modulation rate transfer function was determined. Maximum evoked potential responses occurred at modulation frequencies of 500 and 1000 Hz. The AEP-derived audiograms were U-shaped. The lowest hearing thresholds occurred between 20 and 60 kHz, with the best hearing sensitivity at 40 kHz. The auditory brainstem response (ABR) was composed of seven waves and resembled the ABR of the bottlenose and common dolphins. By changing electrode locations, creating 3-D reconstructions of the brain from CT images and measuring the amplitude of the ABR waves, we provided evidence that the neuroanatomical sources of ABR waves I, IV and VI were the auditory nerve, inferior colliculus and the medial geniculate body, respectively. The combination of AEP testing and CT imaging provided a new synthesis of methods for studying the auditory system of cetaceans. PMID:21346122

  9. From the eye of the albatrosses: a bird-borne camera shows an association between albatrosses and a killer whale in the Southern Ocean.

    PubMed

    Sakamoto, Kentaro Q; Takahashi, Akinori; Iwata, Takashi; Trathan, Philip N

    2009-01-01

    Albatrosses fly many hundreds of kilometers across the open ocean to find and feed upon their prey. Despite the growing number of studies concerning their foraging behaviour, relatively little is known about how albatrosses actually locate their prey. Here, we present our results from the first deployments of a combined animal-borne camera and depth data logger on free-ranging black-browed albatrosses (Thalassarche melanophrys). The still images recorded from these cameras showed that some albatrosses actively followed a killer whale (Orcinus orca), possibly to feed on food scraps left by this diving predator. The camera images together with the depth profiles showed that the birds dived only occasionally, but that they actively dived when other birds or the killer whale were present. This association with diving predators or other birds may partially explain how albatrosses find their prey more efficiently in the apparently 'featureless' ocean, with a minimal requirement for energetically costly diving or landing activities. PMID:19809497

  10. 76 FR 42082 - Taking of Marine Mammals Incidental to Commercial Fishing Operations; False Killer Whale Take...

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2011-07-18

    ... of Fisheries (75 FR 68468, November 8, 2010) identifies several other species or stocks of marine... from commercial fishing will have a negligible impact on CNP humpback whales (75 FR 29984, May 28, 2010... January 19, 2010 (75 FR 2853), and selected team members according to guidance provided in MMPA...

  11. Behavioral responses of herring (Clupea harengus) to 1-2 and 6-7 kHz sonar signals and killer whale feeding sounds.

    PubMed

    Doksaeter, Lise; Rune Godo, Olav; Olav Handegard, Nils; Kvadsheim, Petter H; Lam, Frans-Peter A; Donovan, Carl; Miller, Patrick J O

    2009-01-01

    Military antisubmarine sonars produce intense sounds within the hearing range of most clupeid fish. The behavioral reactions of overwintering herring (Clupea harengus) to sonar signals of two different frequency ranges (1-2 and 6-7 kHz), and to playback of killer whale feeding sounds, were tested in controlled exposure experiments in Vestfjorden, Norway, November 2006. The behavior of free ranging herring was monitored by two upward-looking echosounders. A vessel towing an operational naval sonar source approached and passed over one of them in a block design setup. No significant escape reactions, either vertically or horizontally, were detected in response to sonar transmissions. Killer whale feeding sounds induced vertical and horizontal movements of herring. The results indicate that neither transmission of 1-2 kHz nor 6-7 kHz have significant negative influence on herring on the received sound pressure level tested (127-197 and 139-209 dB(rms) re 1 microPa, respectively). Military sonars of such frequencies and source levels may thus be operated in areas of overwintering herring without substantially affecting herring behavior or herring fishery. The avoidance during playback of killer whale sounds demonstrates the nature of an avoidance reaction and the ability of the experimental design to reveal it. PMID:19173441

  12. Gastrointestinal parasites and prey items from a mass stranding of false killer whales, Pseudorca crassidens, in Rio Grande do Sul, Southern Brazil.

    PubMed

    Andrade, A L; Pinedo, M C; Barreto, A S

    2001-02-01

    The gastrointestinal tract of 14 false killer whales, 6 males and 8 females, stranded in June 1995 in southern Brazil, with total standard lengths from 338 to 507 cm, were analysed for endoparasites and food items. A pregnant female had a male foetus of 77.5 cm. Parasites were found in all 14 false killer whales. The nematode Anisakis simplex (Rudolphi, 1809) was found in the stomach of 57% of the animals and the acanthocephalan Bolbosoma capitatum (Linstow, 1889) Porta, 1908 was present in the intestine of all specimens and showed densities up to 600 m-1. An unidentified cestode (Tethrabothridae) was found also in the intestines of 14% of the individuals. The high infections of B. capitatum and A. simplex were not directly related with the cause of death. In the stomachs of four females, beaks of at least eight specimens of the oceanic and epipelagic species Ommastrephes bartramii (Lesueur, 1821) were found, with mantle lengths ranging from 189.8 to 360.9 mm. The distribution of O. bartramii in the coast of Rio Grande do Sul is consistent with false killer whales feeding in continental shelf waters. PMID:11340462

  13. Worldwide structure of mtDNA diversity among Cuvier's beaked whales (Ziphius cavirostris): implications for threatened populations.

    PubMed

    Dalebout, Merel L; Robertson, Kelly M; Frantzis, Alexandros; Engelhaupt, Dan; Mignucci-Giannoni, Antonio A; Rosario-Delestre, Raul J; Baker, C Scott

    2005-10-01

    We present the first description of phylogeographic structure among Cuvier's beaked whales (Ziphius cavirostris) worldwide using mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) control region sequences obtained from strandings (n = 70), incidental fisheries takes (n = 11), biopsy (n = 1), and whale-meat markets (n = 5). Over a 290-base pair fragment, 23 variable sites defined 33 unique haplotypes among the total of 87 samples. Nucleotide diversity at the control region was relatively low (pi = 1.27%+/- 0.723%) compared to wide-ranging baleen whales, but higher than strongly matrifocal sperm, pilot and killer whales. Phylogenetic reconstruction using maximum likelihood revealed four distinct haplotype groups, each of which displayed strong frequency differences among ocean basins, but no reciprocal monophyly or fixed character differences. Consistent with this phylogeographic pattern, an analysis of molecular variance showed high levels of differentiation among ocean basins (F(ST) = 0.14, Phi ST = 0.42; P < 0.001). Estimated rates of female migration among ocean basins were low (generally < or = 2 individuals per generation). Regional sample sizes were too small to detect subdivisions within oceans except in the North Atlantic, where the Mediterranean Sea (n = 12) was highly differentiated due to the presence of two private haplotypes. One market product purchased in South Korea grouped with other haplotypes found only in the North Atlantic, suggesting a violation of current agreements banning international trade in cetacean species. Together, these results demonstrate a high degree of isolation and low maternal gene flow among oceanic, and in some cases, regional populations of Cuvier's beaked whales. This has important implications for understanding the threats of human impact, including fisheries by-catch, direct hunting, and disturbance or mortality from anthropogenic sound. PMID:16156808

  14. Crassicaudosis: a parasitic disease threatening the health and population recovery of large baleen whales.

    PubMed

    Lambertsen, R H

    1992-12-01

    This communication briefly reviews knowledge of the systemic disease caused by Crassicauda boopis in blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus), fin whales (B. physalus) and humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae). Infections with this giant nematode characteristically incite a chronic inflammatory reaction of the blood vessels which drain the kidneys. In this critical location, the parasite-induced lesion can cause complete vascular occlusion and kidney failure. Whale calves and juveniles typically suffer the heaviest parasite burdens following transplacental infection of the developing whale foetus. There is also probable whale-to-whale transmission post-partum, involving urinary contamination of the environment with C. boopis eggs and larvae. The frequency of the infection can exceed 95%. Haematological findings suggest that systemic pathological effects are typical at the population level. Gradual development of occlusive lesions in the renal veins appears to correlate with a major peak in natural mortality at about one year of age. To date, all findings support the conclusion that premature death caused by C. boopis infection is potentially a major impediment to population recovery of affected whale species. This suggests the interesting possibility of actively encouraging the population recovery of three species of large baleen whales. Such a restoration effort would entail remotely-deployed anthelminthic therapy administered, at sea, to infected whale cows and calves. PMID:1305859

  15. Blue whale population structure along the eastern South Pacific Ocean: evidence of more than one population.

    PubMed

    Torres-Florez, J P; Hucke-Gaete, R; LeDuc, R; Lang, A; Taylor, B; Pimper, L E; Bedriñana-Romano, L; Rosenbaum, H C; Figueroa, C C

    2014-12-01

    Blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus) were among the most intensively exploited species of whales in the world. As a consequence of this intense exploitation, blue whale sightings off the coast of Chile were uncommon by the end of the 20th century. In 2004, a feeding and nursing ground was reported in southern Chile (SCh). With the aim to investigate the genetic identity and relationship of these Chilean blue whales to those in other Southern Hemisphere areas, 60 biopsy samples were collected from blue whales in SCh between 2003 and 2009. These samples were genotyped at seven microsatellite loci and the mitochondrial control region was sequenced, allowing us to identify 52 individuals. To investigate the genetic identity of this suspected remnant population, we compared these 52 individuals to blue whales from Antarctica (ANT, n = 96), Northern Chile (NCh, n = 19) and the eastern tropical Pacific (ETP, n = 31). No significant differentiation in haplotype frequencies (mtDNA) or among genotypes (nDNA) was found between SCh, NCh and ETP, while significant differences were found between those three areas and Antarctica for both the mitochondrial and microsatellite analyses. Our results suggest at least two breeding population units or subspecies exist, which is also supported by other lines of evidence such as morphometrics and acoustics. The lack of differences detected between SCh/NCh/ETP areas supports the hypothesis that eastern South Pacific blue whales are using the ETP area as a possible breeding area. Considering the small population sizes previously reported for the SCh area, additional conservation measures and monitoring of this population should be developed and prioritized. PMID:25492593

  16. Invariance of evoked-potential echo-responses to target strength and distance in an echolocating false killer whale.

    PubMed

    Supin, Alexander Ya; Nachtigall, Paul E; Au, Whitlow W L; Breese, Marlee

    2005-06-01

    Brain auditory evoked potentials (AEPs) were recorded in a false killer whale Pseudorca crassidens trained to accept suction-cup EEG electrodes and to detect targets by echolocation. AEP collection was triggered by echolocation pulses transmitted by the animal. The target strength varied from -22 to -40 dB; the distance varied from 1.5 to 6 m. All the records contained two AEP sets: the first one of a constant latency (transmission-related AEP) and a second one with a delay proportional to the distance (echo-related AEP). The amplitude of echo-related AEPs was almost independent of both target strength and distance, though combined variation of these two parameters resulted in echo intensity variation within a range of 42 dB. The amplitude of transmission-related AEPs was independent of distance but dependent on target strength: the less the target strength, the higher the amplitude. Recording of transmitted pulses has not shown their intensity dependence on target strength. It is supposed that the constancy of echo-related AEP results from variation of hearing sensitivity depending on the target strength and release of echo-related responses from masking by transmitted pulses depending on the distance. PMID:16018494

  17. The interaction of outgoing echolocation pulses and echoes in the false killer whale's auditory system: evoked-potential study.

    PubMed

    Supin, Alexander Ya; Nachtigall, Paul E; Au, Whitlow W L; Breese, Marlee

    2004-06-01

    Brain auditory evoked potentials (AEP) associated with echolocation were recorded in a false killer whale Pseudorca crassidens trained to accept suction-cup EEG electrodes and to detect targets by echolocation. AEP collection was triggered by echolocation pulses transmitted by the animal. The target was a hollow aluminum cylinder of strength of -22 dB at a distance from 1 to 8 m. Each AEP record was obtained by averaging more than 1000 individual records. All the records contained two AEP sets: the first one of a constant latency and a second one with a delay proportional to the distance. The timing of these two AEP sets was interpreted as responses to the transmitted echolocation pulse and echo, respectively. The echo-related AEP, although slightly smaller, was comparable to the outgoing click-related AEP in amplitude, even though at a target distance as far as 8 m the echo intensity was as low as -64 dB relative to the transmitted pulse in front of the head. The amplitude of the echo-related AEP was almost independent of distance, even though variation of target distance from 1 to 8 m influenced the echo intensity by as much as 36 dB. PMID:15237846

  18. Interaction of emitted sonar pulses and simulated echoes in a false killer whale: an evoked-potential study.

    PubMed

    Supin, Alexander Ya; Nachtigall, Paul E; Breese, Marlee

    2011-09-01

    Auditory evoked potentials (AEP) were recorded during echolocation in a false killer whale Pseudorca crassidens. An electronically synthesized and played-back (simulated) echo was triggered by an emitted biosonar pulse, and its intensity was proportional to that of the emitted click. The delay and transfer factor of the echo relative to the emitted click was controlled by the operator. The echo delay varied from 2 to 16 ms (by two-fold steps), and the transfer factor varied within ranges from -45 to -30 dB at the 2-ms delay to -60 to -45 dB at the 16-ms delay. Echo-related AEPs featured amplitude dependence both on echo delay at a constant transfer factor (the longer the delay, the higher amplitude) and on echo transfer factor at a constant delay (the higher transfer factor, the higher amplitude). Conjunctional variation of the echo transfer factor and delay kept the AEP amplitude constant when the delay to transfer factor trade was from -7.1 to -8.4 dB per delay doubling. The results confirm the hypothesis that partial forward masking of the echoes by the preceding emitted sonar pulses serves as a time-varying automatic gain control in the auditory system of echolocating odontocetes. PMID:21895108

  19. The interaction of outgoing echolocation pulses and echoes in the false killer whale's auditory system: Evoked-potential study

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Supin, Alexander Ya.; Nachtigall, Paul E.; Au, Whitlow W. L.; Breese, Marlee

    2004-06-01

    Brain auditory evoked potentials (AEP) associated with echolocation were recorded in a false killer whale Pseudorca crassidens trained to accept suction-cup EEG electrodes and to detect targets by echolocation. AEP collection was triggered by echolocation pulses transmitted by the animal. The target was a hollow aluminum cylinder of strength of -22 dB at a distance from 1 to 8 m. Each AEP record was obtained by averaging more than 1000 individual records. All the records contained two AEP sets: the first one of a constant latency and a second one with a delay proportional to the distance. The timing of these two AEP sets was interpreted as responses to the transmitted echolocation pulse and echo, respectively. The echo-related AEP, although slightly smaller, was comparable to the outgoing click-related AEP in amplitude, even though at a target distance as far as 8 m the echo intensity was as low as -64 dB relative to the transmitted pulse in front of the head. The amplitude of the echo-related AEP was almost independent of distance, even though variation of target distance from 1 to 8 m influenced the echo intensity by as much as 36 dB.

  20. Invariance of evoked-potential echo-responses to target strength and distance in an echolocating false killer whale

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Supin, Alexander Ya.; Nachtigall, Paul E.; Au, Whitlow W. L.; Breese, Marlee

    2005-06-01

    Brain auditory evoked potentials (AEPs) were recorded in a false killer whale Pseudorca crassidens trained to accept suction-cup EEG electrodes and to detect targets by echolocation. AEP collection was triggered by echolocation pulses transmitted by the animal. The target strength varied from -22 to -40 dB the distance varied from 1.5 to 6 m. All the records contained two AEP sets: the first one of a constant latency (transmission-related AEP) and a second one with a delay proportional to the distance (echo-related AEP). The amplitude of echo-related AEPs was almost independent of both target strength and distance, though combined variation of these two parameters resulted in echo intensity variation within a range of 42 dB. The amplitude of transmission-related AEPs was independent of distance but dependent on target strength: the less the target strength, the higher the amplitude. Recording of transmitted pulses has not shown their intensity dependence on target strength. It is supposed that the constancy of echo-related AEP results from variation of hearing sensitivity depending on the target strength and release of echo-related responses from masking by transmitted pulses depending on the distance. .

  1. Baseline studies of health status in north Atlantic Baleen whale populations

    SciTech Connect

    Lambertsen, R.H. )

    1988-09-01

    This study investigated the health status of fin and sei whale populations of the central North Atlantic to establish a baseline for comparison with stranded whales in more heavily contaminated coastal zones. Systematic necropsy examinations were conducted on 150 fin whales and 42 sei whales caught by commercial whalers off the west coast of Iceland. Gas chromatographic measurements showed detectable tissue levels of organochlorine pesticides, but these levels were low, ranging from 0.2 ppb (gamma-BHC) to 1540 ppb (p,p{prime} DDE). Relevant to the comparative evaluation of contaminant effects was the finding that both the fin and sei whale, despite very similar life histories, suffered from a distinct complement of natural disease problems. From the high incidence and contaminative route of transmission of the major parasitic diseases found, it is predicted that population-level health effects, including increments in mortality rate potentially caused by environmental contamination, will increase with population density.

  2. Abundant mitochondrial DNA variation and world-wide population structure in humpback whales.

    PubMed

    Baker, C S; Perry, A; Bannister, J L; Weinrich, M T; Abernethy, R B; Calambokidis, J; Lien, J; Lambertsen, R H; Ramírez, J U; Vasquez, O

    1993-09-01

    Hunting during the last 200 years reduced many populations of mysticete whales to near extinction. To evaluate potential genetic bottlenecks in these exploited populations, we examined mitochondrial DNA control region sequences from 90 individual humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) representing six subpopulations in three ocean basins. Comparisons of relative nucleotide and nucleotype diversity reveal an abundance of genetic variation in all but one of the oceanic subpopulations. Phylogenetic reconstruction of nucleotypes and analysis of maternal gene flow show that current genetic variation is not due to postexploitation migration between oceans but is a relic of past population variability. Calibration of the rate of control region evolution across three families of whales suggests that existing humpback whale lineages are of ancient origin. Preservation of preexploitation variation in humpback whales may be attributed to their long life-span and overlapping generations and to an effective, though perhaps not timely, international prohibition against hunting. PMID:8367488

  3. The significance of respiration timing in the energetics estimates of free-ranging killer whales (Orcinus orca).

    PubMed

    Roos, Marjoleine M H; Wu, Gi-Mick; Miller, Patrick J O

    2016-07-01

    Respiration rate has been used as an indicator of metabolic rate and associated cost of transport (COT) of free-ranging cetaceans, discounting potential respiration-by-respiration variation in O2 uptake. To investigate the influence of respiration timing on O2 uptake, we developed a dynamic model of O2 exchange and storage. Individual respiration events were revealed from kinematic data from 10 adult Norwegian herring-feeding killer whales (Orcinus orca) recorded with high-resolution tags (DTAGs). We compared fixed O2 uptake per respiration models with O2 uptake per respiration estimated through a simple 'broken-stick' O2-uptake function, in which O2 uptake was assumed to be the maximum possible O2 uptake when stores are depleted or maximum total body O2 store minus existing O2 store when stores are close to saturated. In contrast to findings assuming fixed O2 uptake per respiration, uptake from the broken-stick model yielded a high correlation (r(2)>0.9) between O2 uptake and activity level. Moreover, we found that respiration intervals increased and became less variable at higher swimming speeds, possibly to increase O2 uptake efficiency per respiration. As found in previous studies, COT decreased monotonically versus speed using the fixed O2 uptake per respiration models. However, the broken-stick uptake model yielded a curvilinear COT curve with a clear minimum at typical swimming speeds of 1.7-2.4 m s(-1) Our results showed that respiration-by-respiration variation in O2 uptake is expected to be significant. And though O2 consumption measurements of COT for free-ranging cetaceans remain impractical, accounting for the influence of respiration timing on O2 uptake will lead to more consistent predictions of field metabolic rates than using respiration rate alone. PMID:27385756

  4. Satellite tagging and biopsy sampling of killer whales at subantarctic Marion Island: effectiveness, immediate reactions and long-term responses.

    PubMed

    Reisinger, Ryan R; Oosthuizen, W Chris; Péron, Guillaume; Cory Toussaint, Dawn; Andrews, Russel D; de Bruyn, P J Nico

    2014-01-01

    Remote tissue biopsy sampling and satellite tagging are becoming widely used in large marine vertebrate studies because they allow the collection of a diverse suite of otherwise difficult-to-obtain data which are critical in understanding the ecology of these species and to their conservation and management. Researchers must carefully consider their methods not only from an animal welfare perspective, but also to ensure the scientific rigour and validity of their results. We report methods for shore-based, remote biopsy sampling and satellite tagging of killer whales Orcinus orca at Subantarctic Marion Island. The performance of these methods is critically assessed using 1) the attachment duration of low-impact minimally percutaneous satellite tags; 2) the immediate behavioural reactions of animals to biopsy sampling and satellite tagging; 3) the effect of researcher experience on biopsy sampling and satellite tagging; and 4) the mid- (1 month) and long- (24 month) term behavioural consequences. To study mid- and long-term behavioural changes we used multievent capture-recapture models that accommodate imperfect detection and individual heterogeneity. We made 72 biopsy sampling attempts (resulting in 32 tissue samples) and 37 satellite tagging attempts (deploying 19 tags). Biopsy sampling success rates were low (43%), but tagging rates were high with improved tag designs (86%). The improved tags remained attached for 26±14 days (mean ± SD). Individuals most often showed no reaction when attempts missed (66%) and a slight reaction-defined as a slight flinch, slight shake, short acceleration, or immediate dive-when hit (54%). Severe immediate reactions were never observed. Hit or miss and age-sex class were important predictors of the reaction, but the method (tag or biopsy) was unimportant. Multievent trap-dependence modelling revealed considerable variation in individual sighting patterns; however, there were no significant mid- or long-term changes following

  5. Satellite Tagging and Biopsy Sampling of Killer Whales at Subantarctic Marion Island: Effectiveness, Immediate Reactions and Long-Term Responses

    PubMed Central

    Reisinger, Ryan R.; Oosthuizen, W. Chris; Péron, Guillaume; Cory Toussaint, Dawn; Andrews, Russel D.; de Bruyn, P. J. Nico

    2014-01-01

    Remote tissue biopsy sampling and satellite tagging are becoming widely used in large marine vertebrate studies because they allow the collection of a diverse suite of otherwise difficult-to-obtain data which are critical in understanding the ecology of these species and to their conservation and management. Researchers must carefully consider their methods not only from an animal welfare perspective, but also to ensure the scientific rigour and validity of their results. We report methods for shore-based, remote biopsy sampling and satellite tagging of killer whales Orcinus orca at Subantarctic Marion Island. The performance of these methods is critically assessed using 1) the attachment duration of low-impact minimally percutaneous satellite tags; 2) the immediate behavioural reactions of animals to biopsy sampling and satellite tagging; 3) the effect of researcher experience on biopsy sampling and satellite tagging; and 4) the mid- (1 month) and long- (24 month) term behavioural consequences. To study mid- and long-term behavioural changes we used multievent capture-recapture models that accommodate imperfect detection and individual heterogeneity. We made 72 biopsy sampling attempts (resulting in 32 tissue samples) and 37 satellite tagging attempts (deploying 19 tags). Biopsy sampling success rates were low (43%), but tagging rates were high with improved tag designs (86%). The improved tags remained attached for 26±14 days (mean ± SD). Individuals most often showed no reaction when attempts missed (66%) and a slight reaction–defined as a slight flinch, slight shake, short acceleration, or immediate dive–when hit (54%). Severe immediate reactions were never observed. Hit or miss and age-sex class were important predictors of the reaction, but the method (tag or biopsy) was unimportant. Multievent trap-dependence modelling revealed considerable variation in individual sighting patterns; however, there were no significant mid- or long-term changes following

  6. Inter-basin movements of Mediterranean sperm whales provide insight into their population structure and conservation

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Frantzis, A.; Airoldi, S.; Notarbartolo-di-Sciara, G.; Johnson, C.; Mazzariol, S.

    2011-04-01

    The sperm whale is one of the very few deep diving mammal species in the Mediterranean Sea. Following a rare mass stranding of male sperm whales in the Adriatic Sea in December 2009, photo-identification methods were used in order to investigate previous sightings of the stranded whales in the region. Fluke photos of the stranded whales were compared with those of 153 and 128 free-ranging individuals photographed in the western and eastern Mediterranean basins, respectively. Three out of the seven stranded whales had been previously photo-identified and some of them more than once. To reach the stranding place, two of these re-identified whales performed long-range inter-basin movements of about 1600-2100 km (in a straight line) either through the Strait of Sicily or the Strait of Messina. In addition, comparisons among all whales photographed in the two Mediterranean basins revealed that one more individual first photographed in the western basin (1991) was re-identified 13 years later in the eastern basin (2004). These three cases provide the first conclusive evidence of inter-basin movement of sperm whales in the Mediterranean Sea. Inter-basin gene flow is important for the survival of the small and endangered Mediterranean sperm whale population. Mitigating the disturbance created by human activities in the straits area is crucial for its conservation.

  7. Elemental distribution patterns in the skins of false killer whales (Pseudorca crassidens) from a mass stranding in South Africa, analysed using micro-PIXE

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Mouton, M.; Botha, A.; Thornton, M.; Mesjasz-Przybyłowicz, J.; Przybyłowicz, W. J.

    2015-11-01

    Several studies revealed that anthropogenic activities often cause toxic concentrations of some elements, such as mercury, which bio-accumulate through the marine food chain, impacting negatively on the health of animals in the top trophic levels, such as a variety of marine mammals. Moreover, analysis of cetacean skin has been reported to be a reliable, long-term and mostly non-invasive method to monitor bio-accumulation of chemicals in cetacean populations. Several elements, including trace elements, occur naturally in cetacean skin, although nothing is known about their distribution patterns and little about safe base line concentrations. In May 2009, 42 false killer whales (FKWs) beached and died at Kommetjie in the Western Cape of South Africa. Skin samples of these FKWs were collected and analysed to determine elemental distribution patterns. The concentrations and distribution patterns of the major, as well as detectable trace elements were determined in skin samples from ten randomly selected FKW individuals, using micro-PIXE (particle-induced X-ray emission) analysis. Results revealed differences between the distribution patterns of elements in the skin sections. Fe, for example, was found to be concentrated in the dermal papillae, whereas the highest Zn concentrations occurred in the epidermis and particularly in the epidermal papillae. Since these essential elements mediate factors such as host immunity, from skin integrity to humoral immunity, knowledge of their typical distribution patterns can be of great value in studies of bio-accumulation. This is the first report of micro-PIXE being employed to study elemental distribution in cetacean skin and the resulting elemental distribution maps can serve as reference in future environmental pollution studies.

  8. Stable Isotopes Indicate Population Structuring in the Southwest Atlantic Population of Right Whales (Eubalaena australis)

    PubMed Central

    Vighi, Morgana; Borrell, Asunción; Crespo, Enrique A.; Oliveira, Larissa R.; Simões-Lopes, Paulo C.; Flores, Paulo A. C.; García, Néstor A.; Aguilar, Alejandro

    2014-01-01

    From the early 17th century to the 1970s southern right whales, Eubalaena australis, were subject to intense exploitation along the Atlantic coast of South America. Catches along this coast recorded by whalers originally formed a continuum from Brazil to Tierra del Fuego. Nevertheless, the recovery of the population has apparently occurred fragmentarily, and with two main areas of concentration, one off southern Brazil (Santa Catarina) and another off central Argentina (Peninsula Valdés). This pattern suggests some level of heterogeneity amongst the population, which is apparently contradicted by records that traced individuals moving throughout the whole geographical extension covered by the species in the Southwest Atlantic. To test the hypothesis of the potential occurrence of discrete subpopulations exploiting specific habitats, we investigated N, C and O isotopic values in 125 bone samples obtained from whaling factories operating in the early 1970s in southern Brazil (n = 72) and from contemporary and more recent strandings occurring in central Argentina (n = 53). Results indicated significant differences between the two sampling areas, being δ13C and δ18O values significantly higher in samples from southern Brazil than in those from central Argentina. This variation was consistent with isotopic baselines from the two areas, indicating the occurrence of some level of structure in the Southwest Atlantic right whale population and equally that whales more likely feed in areas commonly thought to exclusively serve as nursing grounds. Results aim at reconsidering of the units currently used in the management of the southern right whale in the Southwest Atlantic Ocean. In the context of the current die-off affecting the species in Peninsula Valdés, these results also highlight the necessity to better understand movements of individuals and precisely identify their feeding areas. PMID:24598539

  9. Stable isotopes indicate population structuring in the southwest Atlantic population of right whales (Eubalaena australis).

    PubMed

    Vighi, Morgana; Borrell, Asunción; Crespo, Enrique A; Oliveira, Larissa R; Simões-Lopes, Paulo C; Flores, Paulo A C; García, Néstor A; Aguilar, Alex; Aguilar, Alejandro

    2014-01-01

    From the early 17th century to the 1970s southern right whales, Eubalaena australis, were subject to intense exploitation along the Atlantic coast of South America. Catches along this coast recorded by whalers originally formed a continuum from Brazil to Tierra del Fuego. Nevertheless, the recovery of the population has apparently occurred fragmentarily, and with two main areas of concentration, one off southern Brazil (Santa Catarina) and another off central Argentina (Peninsula Valdés). This pattern suggests some level of heterogeneity amongst the population, which is apparently contradicted by records that traced individuals moving throughout the whole geographical extension covered by the species in the Southwest Atlantic. To test the hypothesis of the potential occurrence of discrete subpopulations exploiting specific habitats, we investigated N, C and O isotopic values in 125 bone samples obtained from whaling factories operating in the early 1970s in southern Brazil (n=72) and from contemporary and more recent strandings occurring in central Argentina (n=53). Results indicated significant differences between the two sampling areas, being δ13C and δ18O values significantly higher in samples from southern Brazil than in those from central Argentina. This variation was consistent with isotopic baselines from the two areas, indicating the occurrence of some level of structure in the Southwest Atlantic right whale population and equally that whales more likely feed in areas commonly thought to exclusively serve as nursing grounds. Results aim at reconsidering of the units currently used in the management of the southern right whale in the Southwest Atlantic Ocean. In the context of the current die-off affecting the species in Peninsula Valdés, these results also highlight the necessity to better understand movements of individuals and precisely identify their feeding areas. PMID:24598539

  10. Diel and seasonal patterns of underwater sounds by Weddell seals, leopard seals, and killer whales in the Antarctic: When it's adaptive to be quiet

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Mindach, Debrah; Thomas, Jeanette

    2005-09-01

    Automated underwater recordings taken during the austral breeding season of the Weddell seal (Leptonychotes weddellii) in Antarctica also provided data on the vocalizations of predators in the area; leopard seals (Hydrurga leptonyx) and killer whales (Orcinus orca). Weddell seals inhabit fast ice areas to give birth, mate, and molt. Near the end of the breeding season in December the fast ice often breaks out and the two pack ice predators are able to move near the Weddell seal colonies and prey on them, especially pups. Recordings were taken continuously for a 2.5-min period each hour from mid-October 1977 and late-January 1978 at Hutton Cliffs and South Turtle Rock Crack, in McMurdo Sound. The leopard seals increased their trill calls when killer whales came into the area as evidenced by an increase in their frequency-modulated squeak calls. Weddell seals decreased their vocalization rate dramatically (~10 sounds/min) compared to during the peak of the breeding season (~75 sounds/min). Perhaps by being quiet, Weddell seals do not attract predators to their area.

  11. Modeling (137)Cs bioaccumulation in the salmon-resident killer whale food web of the Northeastern Pacific following the Fukushima Nuclear Accident.

    PubMed

    Alava, Juan José; Gobas, Frank A P C

    2016-02-15

    To track the long term bioaccumulation of (137)Cs in marine organisms off the Pacific Northwest coast of Canada, we developed a time dependent bioaccumulation model for (137)Cs in a marine mammalian food web that included fish-eating resident killer whales. The model outcomes show that (137)Cs can be expected to gradually bioaccumulate in the food web over time as demonstrated by the increase of the apparent trophic magnification factor of (137)Cs, ranging from 0.76 after 1 month of exposure to 2.0 following 30 years of exposure. (137)Cs bioaccumulation is driven by relatively rapid dietary uptake rates, moderate depuration rates in lower trophic level organisms and slow elimination rates in high trophic level organisms. Model estimates of the (137)Cs activity in species of the food web, based on current measurements and forecasts of (137)Cs activities in oceanic waters and sediments off the Canadian Pacific Northwest, indicate that the long term (137)Cs activities in fish species including Pacific herring, wild Pacific salmon, sablefish and halibut will remain well below the current (137)Cs-Canada Action Level for consumption (1000 Bq/kg) following a nuclear emergency. Killer whales and Pacific salmon are expected to exhibit the largest long term (137)Cs activities and may be good sentinels for monitoring (137)Cs in the region. Assessment of the long term consequences of (137)Cs releases from the Fukushima aftermath should consider the extent of ecological magnification in addition to ocean dilution. PMID:26657356

  12. From the Eye of the Albatrosses: A Bird-Borne Camera Shows an Association between Albatrosses and a Killer Whale in the Southern Ocean

    PubMed Central

    Sakamoto, Kentaro Q.; Takahashi, Akinori; Iwata, Takashi; Trathan, Philip N.

    2009-01-01

    Albatrosses fly many hundreds of kilometers across the open ocean to find and feed upon their prey. Despite the growing number of studies concerning their foraging behaviour, relatively little is known about how albatrosses actually locate their prey. Here, we present our results from the first deployments of a combined animal-borne camera and depth data logger on free-ranging black-browed albatrosses (Thalassarche melanophrys). The still images recorded from these cameras showed that some albatrosses actively followed a killer whale (Orcinus orca), possibly to feed on food scraps left by this diving predator. The camera images together with the depth profiles showed that the birds dived only occasionally, but that they actively dived when other birds or the killer whale were present. This association with diving predators or other birds may partially explain how albatrosses find their prey more efficiently in the apparently ‘featureless’ ocean, with a minimal requirement for energetically costly diving or landing activities. PMID:19809497

  13. Population Structure of Humpback Whales from Their Breeding Grounds in the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans

    PubMed Central

    Rosenbaum, Howard C.; Pomilla, Cristina; Mendez, Martin; Leslie, Matthew S.; Best, Peter B.; Findlay, Ken P.; Minton, Gianna; Ersts, Peter J.; Collins, Timothy; Engel, Marcia H.; Bonatto, Sandro L.; Kotze, Deon P. G. H.; Meÿer, Mike; Barendse, Jaco; Thornton, Meredith; Razafindrakoto, Yvette; Ngouessono, Solange; Vely, Michel; Kiszka, Jeremy

    2009-01-01

    Although humpback whales are among the best-studied of the large whales, population boundaries in the Southern Hemisphere (SH) have remained largely untested. We assess population structure of SH humpback whales using 1,527 samples collected from whales at fourteen sampling sites within the Southwestern and Southeastern Atlantic, the Southwestern Indian Ocean, and Northern Indian Ocean (Breeding Stocks A, B, C and X, respectively). Evaluation of mtDNA population structure and migration rates was carried out under different statistical frameworks. Using all genetic evidence, the results suggest significant degrees of population structure between all ocean basins, with the Southwestern and Northern Indian Ocean most differentiated from each other. Effective migration rates were highest between the Southeastern Atlantic and the Southwestern Indian Ocean, followed by rates within the Southeastern Atlantic, and the lowest between the Southwestern and Northern Indian Ocean. At finer scales, very low gene flow was detected between the two neighbouring sub-regions in the Southeastern Atlantic, compared to high gene flow for whales within the Southwestern Indian Ocean. Our genetic results support the current management designations proposed by the International Whaling Commission of Breeding Stocks A, B, C, and X as four strongly structured populations. The population structure patterns found in this study are likely to have been influenced by a combination of long-term maternally directed fidelity of migratory destinations, along with other ecological and oceanographic features in the region. PMID:19812698

  14. Population structure of humpback whales from their breeding grounds in the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans.

    PubMed

    Rosenbaum, Howard C; Pomilla, Cristina; Mendez, Martin; Leslie, Matthew S; Best, Peter B; Findlay, Ken P; Minton, Gianna; Ersts, Peter J; Collins, Timothy; Engel, Marcia H; Bonatto, Sandro L; Kotze, Deon P G H; Meÿer, Mike; Barendse, Jaco; Thornton, Meredith; Razafindrakoto, Yvette; Ngouessono, Solange; Vely, Michel; Kiszka, Jeremy

    2009-01-01

    Although humpback whales are among the best-studied of the large whales, population boundaries in the Southern Hemisphere (SH) have remained largely untested. We assess population structure of SH humpback whales using 1,527 samples collected from whales at fourteen sampling sites within the Southwestern and Southeastern Atlantic, the Southwestern Indian Ocean, and Northern Indian Ocean (Breeding Stocks A, B, C and X, respectively). Evaluation of mtDNA population structure and migration rates was carried out under different statistical frameworks. Using all genetic evidence, the results suggest significant degrees of population structure between all ocean basins, with the Southwestern and Northern Indian Ocean most differentiated from each other. Effective migration rates were highest between the Southeastern Atlantic and the Southwestern Indian Ocean, followed by rates within the Southeastern Atlantic, and the lowest between the Southwestern and Northern Indian Ocean. At finer scales, very low gene flow was detected between the two neighbouring sub-regions in the Southeastern Atlantic, compared to high gene flow for whales within the Southwestern Indian Ocean. Our genetic results support the current management designations proposed by the International Whaling Commission of Breeding Stocks A, B, C, and X as four strongly structured populations. The population structure patterns found in this study are likely to have been influenced by a combination of long-term maternally directed fidelity of migratory destinations, along with other ecological and oceanographic features in the region. PMID:19812698

  15. Low Genetic Differentiation across Three Major Ocean Populations of the Whale Shark, Rhincodon typus

    PubMed Central

    Schmidt, Jennifer V.; Schmidt, Claudia L.; Ozer, Fusun; Ernst, Robin E.; Feldheim, Kevin A.; Ashley, Mary V.; Levine, Marie

    2009-01-01

    Background Whale sharks are a declining species for which little biological data is available. While these animals are protected in many parts of their range, they are fished legally and illegally in some countries. Baseline biological and ecological data are needed to allow the formulation of an effective conservation plan for whale sharks. It is not known, for example, whether the whale shark is represented by a single worldwide panmictic population or by numerous, reproductively isolated populations. Genetic analysis of population structure is one essential component of the baseline data required for whale shark conservation. Methodology/Principal Findings We have identified 8 polymorphic microsatellites in the whale shark and used these markers to assess genetic variation and population structure in a panel of whale sharks covering a broad geographic region. This is the first record of microsatellite loci in the whale shark, which displayed an average of 9 alleles per locus and mean Ho = 0.66 and He = 0.69. All but one of the eight loci meet the expectations of Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium. Analysis of these loci in whale sharks representing three major portions of their range, the Pacific (P), Caribbean (C), and Indian (I) Oceans, determined that there is little population differentiation between animals sampled in different geographic regions, indicating historical gene flow between populations. FST values for inter-ocean comparisons were low (P×C = 0.0387, C×I = 0.0296 and P×I = −0.0022), and only C×I approached statistical significance (p = 0.0495). Conclusions/Significance We have shown only low levels of genetic differentiation between geographically distinct whale shark populations. Existing satellite tracking data have revealed both regional and long-range migration of whale sharks throughout their range, which supports the finding of gene flow between populations. Whale sharks traverse geographic and political boundaries

  16. High genetic diversity in a small population: the case of Chilean blue whales

    PubMed Central

    Torres-Florez, Juan P; Hucke-Gaete, Rodrigo; Rosenbaum, Howard; Figueroa, Christian C

    2014-01-01

    It is generally assumed that species with low population sizes have lower genetic diversities than larger populations and vice versa. However, this would not be the case for long-lived species with long generation times, and which populations have declined due to anthropogenic effects, such as the blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus). This species was intensively decimated globally to near extinction during the 20th century. Along the Chilean coast, it is estimated that at least 4288 blue whales were hunted from an apparently pre-exploitation population size (k) of a maximum of 6200 individuals (Southeastern Pacific). Thus, here, we describe the mtDNA (control region) and nDNA (microsatellites) diversities of the Chilean blue whale aggregation site in order to verify the expectation of low genetic diversity in small populations. We then compare our findings with other blue whale aggregations in the Southern Hemisphere. Interestingly, although the estimated population size is small compared with the pre-whaling era, there is still considerable genetic diversity, even after the population crash, both in mitochondrial (N = 46) and nuclear (N = 52) markers (Hd = 0.890 and Ho = 0.692, respectively). Our results suggest that this diversity could be a consequence of the long generation times and the relatively short period of time elapsed since the end of whaling, which has been observed in other heavily-exploited whale populations. The genetic variability of blue whales on their southern Chile feeding grounds was similar to that found in other Southern Hemisphere blue whale feeding grounds. Our phylogenetic analysis of mtDNA haplotypes does not show extensive differentiation of populations among Southern Hemisphere blue whale feeding grounds. The present study suggests that although levels of genetic diversity are frequently used as estimators of population health, these parameters depend on the biology of the species and should be taken into account in a

  17. High genetic diversity in a small population: the case of Chilean blue whales.

    PubMed

    Torres-Florez, Juan P; Hucke-Gaete, Rodrigo; Rosenbaum, Howard; Figueroa, Christian C

    2014-04-01

    It is generally assumed that species with low population sizes have lower genetic diversities than larger populations and vice versa. However, this would not be the case for long-lived species with long generation times, and which populations have declined due to anthropogenic effects, such as the blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus). This species was intensively decimated globally to near extinction during the 20th century. Along the Chilean coast, it is estimated that at least 4288 blue whales were hunted from an apparently pre-exploitation population size (k) of a maximum of 6200 individuals (Southeastern Pacific). Thus, here, we describe the mtDNA (control region) and nDNA (microsatellites) diversities of the Chilean blue whale aggregation site in order to verify the expectation of low genetic diversity in small populations. We then compare our findings with other blue whale aggregations in the Southern Hemisphere. Interestingly, although the estimated population size is small compared with the pre-whaling era, there is still considerable genetic diversity, even after the population crash, both in mitochondrial (N = 46) and nuclear (N = 52) markers (Hd = 0.890 and Ho = 0.692, respectively). Our results suggest that this diversity could be a consequence of the long generation times and the relatively short period of time elapsed since the end of whaling, which has been observed in other heavily-exploited whale populations. The genetic variability of blue whales on their southern Chile feeding grounds was similar to that found in other Southern Hemisphere blue whale feeding grounds. Our phylogenetic analysis of mtDNA haplotypes does not show extensive differentiation of populations among Southern Hemisphere blue whale feeding grounds. The present study suggests that although levels of genetic diversity are frequently used as estimators of population health, these parameters depend on the biology of the species and should be taken into account in a

  18. Inferred global connectivity of whale shark Rhincodon typus populations.

    PubMed

    Sequeira, A M M; Mellin, C; Meekan, M G; Sims, D W; Bradshaw, C J A

    2013-02-01

    Ten years have passed since the last synopsis of whale shark Rhincodon typus biogeography. While a recent review of the species' biology and ecology summarized the vast data collected since then, it is clear that information on population geographic connectivity, migration and demography of R. typus is still limited and scattered. Understanding R. typus migratory behaviour is central to its conservation management considering the genetic evidence suggesting local aggregations are connected at the generational scale over entire ocean basins. By collating available data on sightings, tracked movements and distribution information, this review provides evidence for the hypothesis of broad-scale connectivity among populations, and generates a model describing how the world's R. typus are part of a single, global meta-population. Rhincodon typus occurrence timings and distribution patterns make possible a connection between several aggregation sites in the Indian Ocean. The present conceptual model and validating data lend support to the hypothesis that R. typus are able to move among the three largest ocean basins with a minimum total travelling time of around 2-4 years. The model provides a worldwide perspective of possible R. typus migration routes, and suggests a modified focus for additional research to test its predictions. The framework can be used to trim the hypotheses for R. typus movements and aggregation timings, thereby isolating possible mating and breeding areas that are currently unknown. This will assist endeavours to predict the longer-term response of the species to ocean warming and changing patterns of human-induced mortality. PMID:23398057

  19. Processes of contaminant accumulation in an Arctic beluga whale population

    SciTech Connect

    Hickie, B.E.; Muir, D.; Kingsley, M.

    1995-12-31

    As long-lived top predators in marine food chains, marine mammals accumulate high levels of persistent organic contaminants. While arctic marine mammal contaminant concentrations are lower than those from temperate regions, levels are sufficiently high to be a health concern to people who rely on marine mammals as food. Monitoring programs developed to address this problem and to define spatial and temporal trends often are difficult to interpret since tissue contaminant concentrations vary with species, age, sex, reproductive effort, and condition (ie blubber thickness). It can be difficult to relate contaminant concentrations in other environmental compartments to those in marine mammals since their residues reflect exposure over their entire life, often 20 to 30 years. Contaminant accumulation models for marine mammals enable us to better understand the importance of, and interaction between, factors affecting contaminant accumulation, and can provide a dynamic framework for interpreting contaminant monitoring data. The authors developed two models for the beluga whale (Delphinapterus leucas): one provides a detailed view of processes at the individual level, the other examines population-based processes. The models quantify uptake, release and disposition of organic contaminants over their entire lifespan by incorporating all aspects of life-history. These models are used together to examine impact of a variety of factors on patterns and variability of PCBs found in the West Greenland beluga population (sample size: 696, 729). Factors examined include: energetics, growth, birth rate, lactation, contaminant assimilation and clearance rates, and dietary contaminant concentrations. Results are discussed in relation to the use of marine mammals for monitoring contaminant trends.

  20. Assessing the Deepwater Horizon oil spill impact on marine mammal population through acoustics: endangered sperm whales.

    PubMed

    Ackleh, Azmy S; Ioup, George E; Ioup, Juliette W; Ma, Baoling; Newcomb, Joal J; Pal, Nabendu; Sidorovskaia, Natalia A; Tiemann, Christopher

    2012-03-01

    Long-term monitoring of endangered species abundance based on acoustic recordings has not yet been pursued. This paper reports the first attempt to use multi-year passive acoustic data to study the impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on the population of endangered sperm whales. Prior to the spill the Littoral Acoustic Demonstration Center (LADC) collected acoustic recordings near the spill site in 2007. These baseline data now provide a unique opportunity to better understand how the oil spill affected marine mammals in the Gulf of Mexico. In September 2010, LADC redeployed recording buoys at previously used locations 9, 25, and 50 miles away from the incident site. A statistical methodology that provides point and interval estimates of the abundance of the sperm whale population at the two nearest sites is presented. A comparison of the 2007 and the 2010 recordings shows a decrease in acoustic activity and abundance of sperm whales at the 9-mile site by a factor of 2, whereas acoustic activity and abundance at the 25-mile site has clearly increased. This indicates that some sperm whales may have relocated farther away from the spill. Follow-up experiments will be important for understanding long-term impact. PMID:22423725

  1. Accumulation and mother-to-calf transfer of anthropogenic and natural organohalogens in killer whales (Orcinus orca) stranded on the Pacific coast of Japan.

    PubMed

    Haraguchi, Koichi; Hisamichi, Yohsuke; Endo, Tetsuya

    2009-04-01

    Blubber samples were analyzed for anthropogenic and natural persistent organohalogens in nine killer whales (Orcinus orca) stranded on the northern coast of Japan in 2005. Anthropogenic organohalogens were dominated by DDTs (40-240 microg/g lipid weight (lw)), PCBs (19-68 microg/g lw), and chlordanes (trans-nonachlor, 15-80 microg/g lw). Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) were detected at a range of 0.22-0.64 microg/g lw (BDE-47, 42-74% of SigmaPBDE). For natural organohalogens, mixed halogenated dimethylbipyrroles (Br4Cl2-DBP, 6.4-26 microg/g lw), heptachlorinated methylbipyrrole (Cl7-MBP, 0.5-1.9 microg/g lw), two methoxylated tetrabromodiphenyl ethers (6-MeO-BDE47, 0.11-0.58 microg/g lw; 2'-MeO-BDE68, 0.02-0.06 microg/g lw), and dimethoxylated tetrabromobiphenyl (2,2'-diMeO-BB80, 0.06-0.20 microg/g lw) were present. These concentrations in the blubber were higher in calves than in lactating females, indicating that large quantities of the persistent organohalogens transferred from the mother to the calf through lactation. The mother-to-calf transfer ratios of PCBs and PBDEs were significantly decreased with increasing number of halogen substituents, suggesting that higher halogenated congeners are less transferable. PMID:19201449

  2. Characterization of F21.A, a monoclonal antibody that recognize a leucocyte surface antigen for killer whale homologue to beta-2 integrin.

    PubMed

    De Guise, S; Erickson, K; Blanchard, M; DiMolfetto, L; Lepper, H D; Stott, J L; Ferrick, D A

    2004-02-01

    The specificity of F21.A, a monoclonal antibody raised against bottlenose dolphin leucocytes, was characterized in killer whale on the basis of immunoprecipitation of a protein of 94 kDa, as well as flow cytometric analysis. While minimally expressed on resting cells, F21.A labeled a homologue to beta-2 integrin in 89-97% of PMA-activated neutrophils, 53-66% of activated monocytes, and activated B cells but not T cells. Activation of neutrophils reached its maximum 10 min after PMA stimulation. F21.A did not label intracellular stores as did both cross-reacting anti-canine CD11b and CD18, suggesting that an activation-induced conformational change would expose a neoepitope recognized by F21.A. F21.A labeling was largely inhibited by pre-incubation with plasma, suggesting a binding site closely related to that for fibrinogen. In vitro phagocytosis and respiratory burst were almost fully inhibited upon pre-incubation with F21.A, demonstrating its functional importance. This antibody is foreseen as a possible valuable diagnostic and research tool in cetacean immunology. PMID:14741138

  3. Stable isotopes provide insight into population structure and segregation in eastern North Atlantic sperm whales.

    PubMed

    Borrell, Asunción; Velásquez Vacca, Adriana; Pinela, Ana M; Kinze, Carl; Lockyer, Christina H; Vighi, Morgana; Aguilar, Alex

    2013-01-01

    In pelagic species inhabiting large oceans, genetic differentiation tends to be mild and populations devoid of structure. However, large cetaceans have provided many examples of structuring. Here we investigate whether the sperm whale, a pelagic species with large population sizes and reputedly highly mobile, shows indication of structuring in the eastern North Atlantic, an ocean basin in which a single population is believed to occur. To do so, we examined stable isotope values in sequential growth layer groups of teeth from individuals sampled in Denmark and NW Spain. In each layer we measured oxygen- isotope ratios (δ(18)O) in the inorganic component (hydroxyapatite), and nitrogen and carbon isotope ratios (δ(15)N: δ(13)C) in the organic component (primarily collagenous). We found significant differences between Denmark and NW Spain in δ(15)N and δ(18)O values in the layer deposited at age 3, considered to be the one best representing the baseline of the breeding ground, in δ(15)N, δ(13)C and δ(18)O values in the period up to age 20, and in the ontogenetic variation of δ(15)N and δ(18)O values. These differences evidence that diet composition, use of habitat and/or migratory destinations are dissimilar between whales from the two regions and suggest that the North Atlantic population of sperm whales is more structured than traditionally accepted. PMID:24324782

  4. Stable Isotopes Provide Insight into Population Structure and Segregation in Eastern North Atlantic Sperm Whales

    PubMed Central

    Borrell, Asunción; Velásquez Vacca, Adriana; Pinela, Ana M.; Kinze, Carl; Lockyer, Christina H.; Vighi, Morgana; Aguilar, Alex

    2013-01-01

    In pelagic species inhabiting large oceans, genetic differentiation tends to be mild and populations devoid of structure. However, large cetaceans have provided many examples of structuring. Here we investigate whether the sperm whale, a pelagic species with large population sizes and reputedly highly mobile, shows indication of structuring in the eastern North Atlantic, an ocean basin in which a single population is believed to occur. To do so, we examined stable isotope values in sequential growth layer groups of teeth from individuals sampled in Denmark and NW Spain. In each layer we measured oxygen- isotope ratios (δ18O) in the inorganic component (hydroxyapatite), and nitrogen and carbon isotope ratios (δ15N: δ13C) in the organic component (primarily collagenous). We found significant differences between Denmark and NW Spain in δ15N and δ18O values in the layer deposited at age 3, considered to be the one best representing the baseline of the breeding ground, in δ15N, δ13C and δ18O values in the period up to age 20, and in the ontogenetic variation of δ15N and δ18O values. These differences evidence that diet composition, use of habitat and/or migratory destinations are dissimilar between whales from the two regions and suggest that the North Atlantic population of sperm whales is more structured than traditionally accepted. PMID:24324782

  5. Calls reveal population structure of blue whales across the southeast Indian Ocean and the southwest Pacific Ocean

    PubMed Central

    Balcazar, Naysa E.; Tripovich, Joy S.; Klinck, Holger; Nieukirk, Sharon L.; Mellinger, David K.; Dziak, Robert P.; Rogers, Tracey L.

    2015-01-01

    For effective species management, understanding population structure and distribution is critical. However, quantifying population structure is not always straightforward. Within the Southern Hemisphere, the blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) complex is extremely diverse but difficult to study. Using automated detector methods, we identified “acoustic populations” of whales producing region-specific call types. We examined blue whale call types in passive acoustic data at sites spanning over 7,370 km across the southeast Indian Ocean and southwest Pacific Ocean (SWPO) from 2009 to 2012. In the absence of genetic resolution, these acoustic populations offer unique information about the blue whale population complex. We found that the Australian continent acts as a geographic boundary, separating Australia and New Zealand blue whale acoustic populations at the junction of the Indian and Pacific Ocean basins. We located blue whales in previously undocumented locations, including the far SWPO, in the Tasman Sea off the east coast of Australia, and along the Lau Basin near Tonga. Our understanding of population dynamics across this broad scale has significant implications to recovery and conservation management for this endangered species, at a regional and global scale. PMID:26989263

  6. A false killer whale reduces its hearing sensitivity when a loud sound is preceded by a warning.

    PubMed

    Nachtigall, Paul E; Supin, Alexander Ya

    2013-08-15

    We investigated the possibility of conditioned dampening of whale hearing thresholds when a loud sound is preceded by a warning sound. The loud sound was a tone of 20 kHz, 170 dB re. 1 μPa, 5 s. Hearing sensitivity was measured using pip-train test stimuli and auditory evoked potential recording. The same test-sound stimuli served as warning sounds. The durations of the warning sounds were varied randomly to avoid locking an anticipated conditioning effect to the timing immediately before the loud sound. When the warning sound lasted from 1 to 9 s or from 5 to 35 s prior to the loud sound, hearing thresholds before the loud sound increased, relative to the baseline, by 12.7 and 7.3 dB, respectively. When the warning sound duration varied within a range of 20 to 140 s, the threshold increase was as low as 3.0 dB. The observed hearing threshold increase was not a result of the unconditioned effect of the loud sound, like a temporary threshold shift, so it was considered to be a manifestation of a conditioned dampening of hearing when the subject anticipated the quick appearance of a loud sound, most likely to protect its hearing. PMID:23619406

  7. Passive acoustic monitoring of Cook Inlet beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas).

    PubMed

    Lammers, Marc O; Castellote, Manuel; Small, Robert J; Atkinson, Shannon; Jenniges, Justin; Rosinski, Anne; Oswald, Julie N; Garner, Chris

    2013-09-01

    The endangered beluga whale (Delphinapterus leucas) population in Cook Inlet, AK faces threats from a variety of anthropogenic factors, including coastal development, oil and gas exploration, vessel traffic, and military activities. To address existing gaps in understanding about the occurrence of belugas in Cook Inlet, a project was developed to use passive acoustic monitoring to document the year-round distribution of belugas, as well as killer whales (Orcinus orca), which prey on belugas. Beginning in June 2009, ten moorings were deployed throughout the Inlet and refurbished every two to eight months. Despite challenging conditions consisting of strong tidal currents carrying debris and seasonal ice cover, 83% of mooring deployments were successfully recovered. Noise from water flow, vessel traffic, and/or industrial activities was present at several sites, potentially masking some signals. However, belugas were successfully detected at multiple locations. Detections were relatively common in the upper inlet and less common or absent at middle and lower inlet locations. Killer whale signals were also recorded. Some seasonal variability in the occurrence of both belugas and killer whales was evident. PMID:23968047

  8. Causes and consequences of marine mammal population declines in southwest Alaska: a food-web perspective

    PubMed Central

    Estes, J.A.; Doak, D.F.; Springer, A.M.; Williams, T.M.

    2009-01-01

    Populations of sea otters, seals and sea lions have collapsed across much of southwest Alaska over the past several decades. The sea otter decline set off a trophic cascade in which the coastal marine ecosystem underwent a phase shift from kelp forests to deforested sea urchin barrens. This interaction in turn affected the distribution, abundance and productivity of numerous other species. Ecological consequences of the pinniped declines are largely unknown. Increased predation by transient (marine mammal-eating) killer whales probably caused the sea otter declines and may have caused the pinniped declines as well. Springer et al. proposed that killer whales, which purportedly fed extensively on great whales, expanded their diets to include a higher percentage of sea otters and pinnipeds following a sharp reduction in great whale numbers from post World War II industrial whaling. Critics of this hypothesis claim that great whales are not now and probably never were an important nutritional resource for killer whales. We used demographic/energetic analyses to evaluate whether or not a predator–prey system involving killer whales and the smaller marine mammals would be sustainable without some nutritional contribution from the great whales. Our results indicate that while such a system is possible, it could only exist under a narrow range of extreme conditions and is therefore highly unlikely. PMID:19451116

  9. Fine-scale population structure of blue whale wintering aggregations in the Gulf of California.

    PubMed

    Costa-Urrutia, Paula; Sanvito, Simona; Victoria-Cota, Nelva; Enríquez-Paredes, Luis; Gendron, Diane

    2013-01-01

    Population differentiation in environments without well-defined geographical barriers represents a challenge for wildlife management. Based on a comprehensive database of individual sighting records (1988-2009) of blue whales from the winter/calving Gulf of California, we assessed the fine-scale genetic and spatial structure of the population using individual-based approaches. Skin samples of 187 individuals were analyzed for nine microsatellite loci. A single population with no divergence among years and months and no isolation by distance (Rxy = 0.1-0.001, p>0.05) were found. We ran two bayesian clustering methods using Structure and Geneland softwares in two different ways: 1) a general analysis including all individuals in which a single cluster was identified with both softwares; 2) a specific analysis of females only in which two main clusters (Loreto Bay and northern areas, and San Jose-La Paz Bay area) were revealed by Geneland program. This study provides information indicating that blue whales wintering in the Gulf of California are part of a single population unit and showed a fine-scale structure among females, possibly associated with their high site fidelity, particularly when attending calves. It is likely that the loss of genetic variation is minimized by male mediated gene flow, which may reduce the genetic drift effect. Opportunities for kin selection may also influence calf survival and, in consequence, have a positive impact on population demography in this small and endangered population. PMID:23505485

  10. Organochlorine exposure and bioaccumulation in the endangered northwest Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis) population

    SciTech Connect

    Weisbrod, A.V.; Shea, D.; Moore, M.J.; Stegeman, J.J.

    2000-03-01

    Exposure to toxicants is one factor hypothesized to influence population growth of the northern right whale. Organochlorines in right whale skin, feces, and prey were measured and used to identify factors influencing exposure and bioaccumulation. Concentrations of 30 polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and 20 pesticides in skin biopsies were consistent with other baleenopterids. Concentrations in feces and prey were two orders of magnitude less than in biopsies. In principal component analysis, organochlorines in biopsies matched those from Bay of Fundy, Canada, zooplankton, whereas feces were like Cape Cod, USA, copepods. Year of biopsy collection was the principal factor associated with differential accumulation of nonmetabolizable PCBs, 4,4{prime}-DDE, and dieldrin. Biopsies collected during winter had lower concentrations of lipid and metabolizable compounds than biopsies collected during summer. Concentrations of metabolizable PCBs increased with age in males. The bioaccumulation patterns implied that blubber burdens change annually because of the ingestion of different prey or prey from distinct locations and the release of some organochlorines stored in blubber during lipid depletion in winter. Because biopsy concentrations were lower than those found in marine mammals affected by PCBs and DDTs, the authors do not have evidence that the endangered whales bioaccumulate hazardous concentrations of organochlorines.

  11. Population structure of humpback whales in the western and central South Pacific Ocean as determined by vocal exchange among populations.

    PubMed

    Garland, Ellen C; Goldizen, Anne W; Lilley, Matthew S; Rekdahl, Melinda L; Garrigue, Claire; Constantine, Rochelle; Hauser, Nan Daeschler; Poole, M Michael; Robbins, Jooke; Noad, Michael J

    2015-08-01

    For cetaceans, population structure is traditionally determined by molecular genetics or photographically identified individuals. Acoustic data, however, has provided information on movement and population structure with less effort and cost than traditional methods in an array of taxa. Male humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) produce a continually evolving vocal sexual display, or song, that is similar among all males in a population. The rapid cultural transmission (the transfer of information or behavior between conspecifics through social learning) of different versions of this display between distinct but interconnected populations in the western and central South Pacific region presents a unique way to investigate population structure based on the movement dynamics of a song (acoustic) display. Using 11 years of data, we investigated an acoustically based population structure for the region by comparing stereotyped song sequences among populations and years. We used the Levenshtein distance technique to group previously defined populations into (vocally based) clusters based on the overall similarity of their song display in space and time. We identified the following distinct vocal clusters: western cluster, 1 population off eastern Australia; central cluster, populations around New Caledonia, Tonga, and American Samoa; and eastern region, either a single cluster or 2 clusters, one around the Cook Islands and the other off French Polynesia. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that each breeding aggregation represents a distinct population (each occupied a single, terminal node) in a metapopulation, similar to the current understanding of population structure based on genetic and photo-identification studies. However, the central vocal cluster had higher levels of song-sharing among populations than the other clusters, indicating that levels of vocal connectivity varied within the region. Our results demonstrate the utility and value of

  12. Distribution of killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptors genes in the Italian Caucasian population

    PubMed Central

    Bontadini, A; Testi, M; Cuccia, MC; Martinetti, M; Carcassi, C; Chiesa, A; Cosentini, E; Dametto, E; Frison, S; Iannone, AM; Lombardo, C; Malagoli, A; Mariani, M; Mariotti, L; Mascaretti, L; Mele, L; Miotti, V; Nesci, S; Ozzella, G; Piancatelli, D; Romeo, G; Tagliaferri, C; Vatta, S; Andreani, M; Conte, R

    2006-01-01

    Background Killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIRs) are a family of inhibitory and activatory receptors that are expressed by most natural killer (NK) cells. The KIR gene family is polymorphic: genomic diversity is achieved through differences in gene content and allelic polymorphism. The number of KIR loci has been reported to vary among individuals, resulting in different KIR haplotypes. In this study we report the genotypic structure of KIRs in 217 unrelated healthy Italian individuals from 22 immunogenetics laboratories, located in the northern, central and southern regions of Italy. Methods Two hundred and seventeen DNA samples were studied by a low resolution PCR-SSP kit designed to identify all KIR genes. Results All 17 KIR genes were observed in the population with different frequencies than other Caucasian and non-Caucasian populations; framework genes KIR3DL3, KIR3DP1, KIR2DL4 and KIR3DL2 were present in all individuals. Sixty-five different profiles were found in this Italian population study. Haplotype A remains the most prevalent and genotype 1, with a frequency of 28.5%, is the most commonly observed in the Italian population. Conclusion The Italian Caucasian population shows polymorphism of the KIR gene family like other Caucasian and non-Caucasian populations. Although 64 genotypes have been observed, genotype 1 remains the most frequent as already observed in other populations. Such knowledge of the KIR gene distribution in populations is very useful in the study of associations with diseases and in selection of donors for haploidentical bone marrow transplantation. PMID:17069649

  13. Robust, comparable population metrics through collaborative photo-monitoring of whale sharks Rhincodon typus.

    PubMed

    Holmberg, Jason; Norman, Bradley; Arzoumanian, Zaven

    2008-01-01

    The formulation of conservation policy for species that are rare and migratory requires broad cooperation to ensure that adequate levels of standardized data collection are achieved and that the results of local analyses are comparable. Estimates of apparent survival rate, relative change in abundance, and proportions of newly marked and returning individuals can inform local management decisions while highlighting corresponding changes at other linked research stations. We have applied computer-assisted photo-identification and mark-recapture population modeling to whale sharks Rhincodon typus at Ningaloo Marine Park (NMP), Western Australia, to create a baseline trend for comparison with other regional aggregations of the species. We estimate several ecological parameters of interest, including an average apparent survival rate of 0.55 yr(-1) for sharks newly marked (new) and 0.83 yr(-1) for sharks captured in multiple seasons (philopatric). The average proportion of philopatric sharks is found to be 0.65 of the total population, and we derive an average population growth rate of 1.12 yr(-1) for them. Our analysis uncovered significant heterogeneity in capture and survival probabilities in this study population; our chosen model structures and data analysis account for these influences and demonstrate a good overall fit to the time-series data. The results show good correspondence between capture probability and an available measure of recapture effort, suggesting that unmodeled systematic effects contribute insignificantly to the model fits. We find no evidence of a decline in the whale shark population at NMP, and our results provide metrics of value to their future management. Overall, our study suggests an effective approach to analyzing and modeling mark-recapture data for a rare species using computer-assisted photo-identification and opportunistic data collection from ecotourism to ensure the quality and volume of data required for population analysis

  14. Genetic structure of populations of whale sharks among ocean basins and evidence for their historic rise and recent decline.

    PubMed

    Vignaud, Thomas M; Maynard, Jeffrey A; Leblois, Raphael; Meekan, Mark G; Vázquez-Juárez, Ricardo; Ramírez-Macías, Dení; Pierce, Simon J; Rowat, David; Berumen, Michael L; Beeravolu, Champak; Baksay, Sandra; Planes, Serge

    2014-05-01

    This study presents genetic evidence that whale sharks, Rhincodon typus, are comprised of at least two populations that rarely mix and is the first to document a population expansion. Relatively high genetic structure is found when comparing sharks from the Gulf of Mexico with sharks from the Indo-Pacific. If mixing occurs between the Indian and Atlantic Oceans, it is not sufficient to counter genetic drift. This suggests whale sharks are not all part of a single global metapopulation. The significant population expansion we found was indicated by both microsatellite and mitochondrial DNA. The expansion may have happened during the Holocene, when tropical species could expand their range due to sea-level rise, eliminating dispersal barriers and increasing plankton productivity. However, the historic trend of population increase may have reversed recently. Declines in genetic diversity are found for 6 consecutive years at Ningaloo Reef in Australia. The declines in genetic diversity being seen now in Australia may be due to commercial-scale harvesting of whale sharks and collision with boats in past decades in other countries in the Indo-Pacific. The study findings have implications for models of population connectivity for whale sharks and advocate for continued focus on effective protection of the world's largest fish at multiple spatial scales. PMID:24750370

  15. Humpback whale populations share a core skin bacterial community: towards a health index for marine mammals?

    PubMed

    Apprill, Amy; Robbins, Jooke; Eren, A Murat; Pack, Adam A; Reveillaud, Julie; Mattila, David; Moore, Michael; Niemeyer, Misty; Moore, Kathleen M T; Mincer, Tracy J

    2014-01-01

    Microbes are now well regarded for their important role in mammalian health. The microbiology of skin--a unique interface between the host and environment--is a major research focus in human health and skin disorders, but is less explored in other mammals. Here, we report on a cross-population study of the skin-associated bacterial community of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae), and examine the potential for a core bacterial community and its variability with host (endogenous) or geographic/environmental (exogenous) specific factors. Skin biopsies or freshly sloughed skin from 56 individuals were sampled from populations in the North Atlantic, North Pacific and South Pacific oceans and bacteria were characterized using 454 pyrosequencing of SSU rRNA genes. Phylogenetic and statistical analyses revealed the ubiquity and abundance of bacteria belonging to the Flavobacteria genus Tenacibaculum and the Gammaproteobacteria genus Psychrobacter across the whale populations. Scanning electron microscopy of skin indicated that microbial cells colonize the skin surface. Despite the ubiquity of Tenacibaculum and Psychrobater spp., the relative composition of the skin-bacterial community differed significantly by geographic area as well as metabolic state of the animals (feeding versus starving during migration and breeding), suggesting that both exogenous and endogenous factors may play a role in influencing the skin-bacteria. Further, characteristics of the skin bacterial community from these free-swimming individuals were assembled and compared to two entangled and three dead individuals, revealing a decrease in the central or core bacterial community members (Tenacibaculum and Psychrobater spp.), as well as the emergence of potential pathogens in the latter cases. This is the first discovery of a cross-population, shared skin bacterial community. This research suggests that the skin bacteria may be connected to humpback health and immunity and could possibly serve

  16. Humpback Whale Populations Share a Core Skin Bacterial Community: Towards a Health Index for Marine Mammals?

    PubMed Central

    Apprill, Amy; Robbins, Jooke; Eren, A. Murat; Pack, Adam A.; Reveillaud, Julie; Mattila, David; Moore, Michael; Niemeyer, Misty; Moore, Kathleen M. T.; Mincer, Tracy J.

    2014-01-01

    Microbes are now well regarded for their important role in mammalian health. The microbiology of skin – a unique interface between the host and environment - is a major research focus in human health and skin disorders, but is less explored in other mammals. Here, we report on a cross-population study of the skin-associated bacterial community of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae), and examine the potential for a core bacterial community and its variability with host (endogenous) or geographic/environmental (exogenous) specific factors. Skin biopsies or freshly sloughed skin from 56 individuals were sampled from populations in the North Atlantic, North Pacific and South Pacific oceans and bacteria were characterized using 454 pyrosequencing of SSU rRNA genes. Phylogenetic and statistical analyses revealed the ubiquity and abundance of bacteria belonging to the Flavobacteria genus Tenacibaculum and the Gammaproteobacteria genus Psychrobacter across the whale populations. Scanning electron microscopy of skin indicated that microbial cells colonize the skin surface. Despite the ubiquity of Tenacibaculum and Psychrobater spp., the relative composition of the skin-bacterial community differed significantly by geographic area as well as metabolic state of the animals (feeding versus starving during migration and breeding), suggesting that both exogenous and endogenous factors may play a role in influencing the skin-bacteria. Further, characteristics of the skin bacterial community from these free-swimming individuals were assembled and compared to two entangled and three dead individuals, revealing a decrease in the central or core bacterial community members (Tenacibaculum and Psychrobater spp.), as well as the emergence of potential pathogens in the latter cases. This is the first discovery of a cross-population, shared skin bacterial community. This research suggests that the skin bacteria may be connected to humpback health and immunity and could possibly

  17. Loss and Gain of Natural Killer Cell Receptor Function in an African Hunter-Gatherer Population.

    PubMed

    Hilton, Hugo G; Norman, Paul J; Nemat-Gorgani, Neda; Goyos, Ana; Hollenbach, Jill A; Henn, Brenna M; Gignoux, Christopher R; Guethlein, Lisbeth A; Parham, Peter

    2015-08-01

    Modulating natural killer cell functions in human immunity and reproduction are diverse interactions between the killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIR) of Natural Killer (NK) cells and HLA class I ligands on the surface of tissue cells. Dominant interactions are between KIR2DL1 and the C2 epitope of HLA-C and between KIR2DL2/3 and the C1 epitope of HLA-C. KhoeSan hunter-gatherers of Southern Africa represent the earliest population divergence known and are the most genetically diverse indigenous people, qualities reflected in their KIR and HLA genes. Of the ten KhoeSan KIR2DL1 alleles, KIR2DL1*022 and KIR2DL1*026 likely originated in the KhoeSan, and later were transmitted at low frequency to the neighboring Zulus through gene flow. These alleles arose by point mutation from other KhoeSan KIR2DL1 alleles that are more widespread globally. Mutation of KIR2DL1*001 gave rise to KIR2DL1*022, causing loss of C2 recognition and gain of C1 recognition. This makes KIR2DL1*022 a more avid and specific C1 receptor than any KIR2DL2/3 allotype. Mutation of KIR2DL1*012 gave rise to KIR2DL1*026, causing premature termination of translation at the end of the transmembrane domain. This makes KIR2DL1*026 a membrane-associated receptor that lacks both a cytoplasmic tail and signaling function. At higher frequencies than their parental allotypes, the combined effect of the KhoeSan-specific KIR2DL1*022 and KIR2DL1*026 is to reduce the frequency of strong inhibitory C2 receptors and increase the frequency of strong inhibitory C1 receptors. Because interaction of KIR2DL1 with C2 is associated with risk of pregnancy disorder, these functional changes are potentially advantageous. Whereas all other KhoeSan KIR2DL1 alleles are present on a wide diversity of centromeric KIR haplotypes, KIR2DL1*026 is present on a single KIR haplotype and KIR2DL1*022 is present on two very similar haplotypes. The high linkage disequilibrium across their haplotypes is consistent with a recent

  18. Passive acoustic location of bowhead whales in a population census off Point Barrow, Alaska.

    PubMed

    Cummings, W C; Holliday, D V

    1985-10-01

    A sonobuoy array placed in the nearshore lead was used for locating bowhead whale sounds to determine if whales migrated past census stations beyond visual range and were uncounted. Based on a sample of 182 whale sounds (over 48 h) from closest point of approach (CPA) distances out to more than 10 km, 68% originated beyond 2 km (CPA), where only 1% of the 242 whales were sighted. No whales were sighted beyond 3 km during this time, but 53% of the located sounds originated that far and beyond. Thirty-seven other bowhead sounds over 15 h were distributed out to 6 km. Two tracked whales moved at average speeds of 1.5 and 1.8 kn. Maximum location error was 1%-25% in a sector of 120 degrees X 5-10 km, depending upon bearing and range. Most whale sounds were low-frequency moans, trumpeting roars, and repetitive sequences (songs) with peak spectrum source level up to 189 dB re: 1 microPa, 1 m. Lack of correlations between numbers of sounds and sighted whales precluded using bowhead sounds to count individuals or even to extrapolate ratios of unseen to observed whales. PMID:4056210

  19. Gene flow on ice: the role of sea ice and whaling in shaping Holarctic genetic diversity and population differentiation in bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus).

    PubMed

    Elizabeth Alter, S; Rosenbaum, Howard C; Postma, Lianne D; Whitridge, Peter; Gaines, Cork; Weber, Diana; Egan, Mary G; Lindsay, Melissa; Amato, George; Dueck, Larry; Brownell, Robert L; Heide-Jørgensen, Mads-Peter; Laidre, Kristin L; Caccone, Gisella; Hancock, Brittany L

    2012-11-01

    Sea ice is believed to be a major factor shaping gene flow for polar marine organisms, but it remains unclear to what extent it represents a true barrier to dispersal for arctic cetaceans. Bowhead whales are highly adapted to polar sea ice and were targeted by commercial whalers throughout Arctic and subarctic seas for at least four centuries, resulting in severe reductions in most areas. Both changing ice conditions and reductions due to whaling may have affected geographic distribution and genetic diversity throughout their range, but little is known about range-wide genetic structure or whether it differed in the past. This study represents the first examination of genetic diversity and differentiation across all five putative stocks, including Baffin Bay-Davis Strait, Hudson Bay-Foxe Basin, Bering-Beaufort-Chukchi, Okhotsk, and Spitsbergen. We also utilized ancient specimens from Prince Regent Inlet (PRI) in the Canadian Arctic and compared them with modern stocks. Results from analysis of molecular variance and demographic simulations are consistent with recent and high gene flow between Atlantic and Pacific stocks in the recent past. Significant genetic differences between ancient and modern populations suggest PRI harbored unique maternal lineages in the past that have been recently lost, possibly due to loss of habitat during the Little Ice Age and/or whaling. Unexpectedly, samples from this location show a closer genetic relationship with modern Pacific stocks than Atlantic, supporting high gene flow between the central Canadian Arctic and Beaufort Sea over the past millennium despite extremely heavy ice cover over much of this period. PMID:23170222

  20. Gene flow on ice: the role of sea ice and whaling in shaping Holarctic genetic diversity and population differentiation in bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus)

    PubMed Central

    Elizabeth Alter, S; Rosenbaum, Howard C; Postma, Lianne D; Whitridge, Peter; Gaines, Cork; Weber, Diana; Egan, Mary G; Lindsay, Melissa; Amato, George; Dueck, Larry; Brownell, Robert L; Heide-Jørgensen, Mads-Peter; Laidre, Kristin L; Caccone, Gisella; Hancock, Brittany L

    2012-01-01

    Sea ice is believed to be a major factor shaping gene flow for polar marine organisms, but it remains unclear to what extent it represents a true barrier to dispersal for arctic cetaceans. Bowhead whales are highly adapted to polar sea ice and were targeted by commercial whalers throughout Arctic and subarctic seas for at least four centuries, resulting in severe reductions in most areas. Both changing ice conditions and reductions due to whaling may have affected geographic distribution and genetic diversity throughout their range, but little is known about range-wide genetic structure or whether it differed in the past. This study represents the first examination of genetic diversity and differentiation across all five putative stocks, including Baffin Bay-Davis Strait, Hudson Bay-Foxe Basin, Bering-Beaufort-Chukchi, Okhotsk, and Spitsbergen. We also utilized ancient specimens from Prince Regent Inlet (PRI) in the Canadian Arctic and compared them with modern stocks. Results from analysis of molecular variance and demographic simulations are consistent with recent and high gene flow between Atlantic and Pacific stocks in the recent past. Significant genetic differences between ancient and modern populations suggest PRI harbored unique maternal lineages in the past that have been recently lost, possibly due to loss of habitat during the Little Ice Age and/or whaling. Unexpectedly, samples from this location show a closer genetic relationship with modern Pacific stocks than Atlantic, supporting high gene flow between the central Canadian Arctic and Beaufort Sea over the past millennium despite extremely heavy ice cover over much of this period. PMID:23170222

  1. Beluga whale (Delphinapterus leucas) vocalizations and call classification from the eastern Beaufort Sea population.

    PubMed

    Garland, Ellen C; Castellote, Manuel; Berchok, Catherine L

    2015-06-01

    Beluga whales, Delphinapterus leucas, have a graded call system; call types exist on a continuum making classification challenging. A description of vocalizations from the eastern Beaufort Sea beluga population during its spring migration are presented here, using both a non-parametric classification tree analysis (CART), and a Random Forest analysis. Twelve frequency and duration measurements were made on 1019 calls recorded over 14 days off Icy Cape, Alaska, resulting in 34 identifiable call types with 83% agreement in classification for both CART and Random Forest analyses. This high level of agreement in classification, with an initial subjective classification of calls into 36 categories, demonstrates that the methods applied here provide a quantitative analysis of a graded call dataset. Further, as calls cannot be attributed to individuals using single sensor passive acoustic monitoring efforts, these methods provide a comprehensive analysis of data where the influence of pseudo-replication of calls from individuals is unknown. This study is the first to describe the vocal repertoire of a beluga population using a robust and repeatable methodology. A baseline eastern Beaufort Sea beluga population repertoire is presented here, against which the call repertoire of other seasonally sympatric Alaskan beluga populations can be compared. PMID:26093397

  2. Lifetime PCB 153 bioaccumulation and pharmacokinetics in pilot whales: Bayesian population PBPK modeling and Markov chain Monte Carlo simulations.

    PubMed

    Weijs, Liesbeth; Roach, Anthony C; Yang, Raymond S H; McDougall, Robin; Lyons, Michael; Housand, Conrad; Tibax, Detlef; Manning, Therese; Chapman, John; Edge, Katelyn; Covaci, Adrian; Blust, Ronny

    2014-01-01

    Physiologically based pharmacokinetic (PBPK) models for wild animal populations such as marine mammals typically have a high degree of model uncertainty and variability due to the scarcity of information and the embryonic nature of this field. Parameters values used in marine mammals models are usually taken from other mammalian species (e.g. rats or mice) and might not be entirely suitable to properly explain the kinetics of pollutants in marine mammals. Therefore, several parameters for a PBPK model for the bioaccumulation and pharmacokinetics of PCB 153 in long-finned pilot whales were estimated in the present study using the Bayesian approach executed with Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) simulations. This method uses 'prior' information of the parameters, either from the literature or from previous model runs. The advantage is that this method uses such 'prior' parameters to calculate probability distributions to determine 'posterior' values that best explain the field observations. Those field observations or datasets were PCB 153 concentrations in blubber of long-finned pilot whales from Sandy Cape and Stanley, Tasmania, Australia. The model predictions showed an overall decrease in PCB 153 levels in blubber over the lifetime of the pilot whales. All parameters from the Sandy Cape model were updated using the Stanley dataset, except for the concentration of PCB 153 in the milk. The model presented here is a promising and preliminary start to PBPK modeling in long-finned pilot whales that would provide a basis for non-invasive studies in these protected marine mammals. PMID:24080004

  3. Sequential megafaunal collapse in the North Pacific Ocean: An ongoing legacy of industrial whaling?

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Springer, A.M.; Estes, J.A.; Van Vliet, G. B.; Williams, T.M.; Doak, D.F.; Danner, E.M.; Forney, K.A.; Pfister, B.

    2003-01-01

    Populations of seals, sea lions, and sea otters have sequentially collapsed over large areas of the northern North Pacific Ocean and southern Bering Sea during the last several decades. A bottom-up nutritional limitation mechanism induced by physical oceanographic change or competition with fisheries was long thought to be largely responsible for these declines. The current weight of evidence is more consistent with top-down forcing. Increased predation by killer whales probably drove the sea otter collapse and may have been responsible for the earlier pinniped declines as well. We propose that decimation of the great whales by post-World War II industrial whaling caused the great whales' foremost natural predators, killer whales, to begin feeding more intensively on the smaller marine mammals, thus "fishing-down" this element of the marine food web. The timing of these events, information on the abundance, diet, and foraging behavior of both predators and prey, and feasibility analyses based on demographic and energetic modeling are all consistent with this hypothesis.

  4. Statistical approaches to paternity analysis in natural populations and applications to the North Atlantic humpback whale.

    PubMed Central

    Nielsen, R; Mattila, D K; Clapham, P J; Palsbøll, P J

    2001-01-01

    We present a new method for paternity analysis in natural populations that is based on genotypic data that can take the sampling fraction of putative parents into account. The method allows paternity assignment to be performed in a decision theoretic framework. Simulations are performed to evaluate the utility and robustness of the method and to assess how many loci are necessary for reliable paternity inference. In addition we present a method for testing hypotheses regarding relative reproductive success of different ecologically or behaviorally defined groups as well as a new method for estimating the current population size of males from genotypic data. This method is an extension of the fractional paternity method to the case where only a proportion of all putative fathers have been sampled. It can also be applied to provide abundance estimates of the number of breeding males from genetic data. Throughout, the methods were applied to genotypic data collected from North Atlantic humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) to test if the males that appear dominant during the mating season have a higher reproductive success than the subdominant males. PMID:11290722

  5. Population structure of nuclear and mitochondrial DNA variation among humpback whales in the North Pacific.

    PubMed

    Baker, C S; Medrano-Gonzalez, L; Calambokidis, J; Perry, A; Pichler, F; Rosenbaum, H; Straley, J M; Urban-Ramirez, J; Yamaguchi, M; von Ziegesar, O

    1998-06-01

    The population structure of variation in a nuclear actin intron and the control region of mitochondrial DNA is described for humpback whales from eight regions in the North Pacific Ocean: central California, Baja Peninsula, nearshore Mexico (Bahia Banderas), offshore Mexico (Socorro Island), southeastern Alaska, central Alaska (Prince Williams Sound), Hawaii and Japan (Ogasawara Islands). Primary mtDNA haplotypes and intron alleles were identified using selected restriction fragment length polymorphisms of target sequences amplified by the polymerase chain reaction (PCR-RFLP). There was little evidence of heterogeneity in the frequencies of mtDNA haplotypes or actin intron alleles due to the year or sex composition of the sample. However, frequencies of four mtDNA haplotypes showed marked regional differences in their distributions (phi ST = 0.277; P < 0.001; n = 205 individuals) while the two alleles showed significant, but less marked, regional differences (phi ST = 0.033; P < 0.013; n = 400 chromosomes). An hierarchical analysis of variance in frequencies of haplotypes and alleles supported the grouping of six regions into a central and eastern stock with further partitioning of variance among regions within stocks for haplotypes but not for alleles. Based on available genetic and demographic evidence, the southeastern Alaska and central California feeding grounds were selected for additional analyses of nuclear differentiation using allelic variation at four microsatellite loci. All four loci showed significant differences in allele frequencies (overall FST = 0.043; P < 0.001; average n = 139 chromosomes per locus), indicating at least partial reproductive isolation between the two regions as well as the segregation of mtDNA lineages. Although the two feeding grounds were not panmictic for nuclear or mitochondrial loci, estimates of long-term migration rates suggested that male-mediated gene flow was several-fold greater than female gene flow. These results

  6. Population structure of North American beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) based on nuclear DNA microsatellite variation and contrasted with the population structure revealed by mitochondrial DNA variation

    PubMed

    Gladden; Ferguson; Friesen; Clayton

    1999-03-01

    Beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) in North American waters migrate seasonally between wintering areas in broken pack ice and summering locations in estuaries and other open water areas in the Arctic and sub-Arctic. Results from our previous investigation of beluga whale mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) revealed genetic heterogeneity among beluga from different summering locations that was interpreted as representing a high degree of summering site philopatry. However, mtDNA is maternally inherited and does not reflect mating that may occur among beluga from different summering locations in wintering areas or during annual migrations. To test the possibility that breeding occurs among beluga from different summering locations, genetic variability at five nuclear DNA (nDNA) microsatellite loci was examined in the same animals tested in the mtDNA study. Beluga samples (n = 640) were collected between 1984 and 1994 from 24 sites across North America, mostly during the summer. Whales from the various sites were categorized into eight summering locations as identified by mtDNA analysis, as well as four hypothesized wintering areas: Bering Sea, Hudson Strait (Hudson Strait, Labrador Sea, southwest Davis Strait), Baffin Bay (North Water, east Davis Strait), and St Lawrence River. Microsatellite allele frequencies indicated genetic homogeneity among animals from summering sites believed to winter together but differentiation among whales from some of the wintering areas. In particular, beluga from western North America (Bering Sea) were clearly distinguished from beluga from eastern North America (Hudson Strait, Baffin Bay, and St Lawrence River). Based upon the combined data set, the population of North American beluga whales was divided into two evolutionarily significant units. However, the population may be further subdivided into management units to reflect distinct groups of beluga at summering locations. PMID:10199005

  7. Using trace elements in skin to discriminate the populations of minke whales in southern hemisphere.

    PubMed

    Kunito, Takashi; Watanabe, Izumi; Yasunaga, Genta; Fujise, Yoshihiro; Tanabe, Shinsuke

    2002-03-01

    Concentrations of 12 trace elements (V, Cr, Mn, Cu, Zn, Se, Rb, Sr, Cd, Cs, Ba, and Hg) were determined in liver and skin tissues of minke whales from various regions within the Antarctic Ocean. Cd concentrations in livers of southern minke whale were apparently higher than those in cetaceans from other regions, while Hg concentrations were lower. There were significant positive correlations between body length and concentrations of Cd and Hg in the liver. The concentrations of all trace elements in the skin were lower than those in other cetaceans reported previously. Significant positive correlations between liver and skin were found for Cr, Mn, Cu, Zn, Rb, Cd, and Cs, implying that the concentrations of these trace elements in the skin reflect those of internal organs. Large interannual variation of the accumulation pattern of trace elements in the skin was observed for the southern minke whales from Area V. There were significant differences in the skin element concentrations among Areas III, IV, and V, especially for males. Also, discriminant analysis between geographically two different groups collected during 1995/1996 austral summer season, based on the concentrations of trace elements in the skin, allowed for a correct classification of 90% of these minke whales. These results suggest that measurement of trace elements in skin samples could provide valuable information on the status of contamination and possible geographic differences in the accumulation levels in southern minke whales. PMID:11824827

  8. Rapid multiple-level coevolution in experimental populations of yeast killer and nonkiller strains.

    PubMed

    Pieczynska, Magdalena D; Wloch-Salamon, Dominika; Korona, Ryszard; de Visser, J Arjan G M

    2016-06-01

    Coevolution between different biological entities is considered an important evolutionary mechanism at all levels of biological organization. Here, we provide evidence for coevolution of a yeast killer strain (K) carrying cytoplasmic dsRNA viruses coding for anti-competitor toxins and an isogenic toxin-sensitive strain (S) during 500 generations of laboratory propagation. Signatures of coevolution developed at two levels. One of them was coadaptation of K and S. Killing ability of K first increased quickly and was followed by the rapid invasion of toxin-resistant mutants derived from S, after which killing ability declined. High killing ability was shown to be advantageous when sensitive cells were present but costly when they were absent. Toxin resistance evolved via a two-step process, presumably involving the fitness-enhancing loss of one chromosome followed by selection of a recessive resistant mutation on the haploid chromosome. The other level of coevolution occurred between cell and killer virus. By swapping the killer viruses between ancestral and evolved strains, we could demonstrate that changes observed in both host and virus were beneficial only when combined, suggesting that they involved reciprocal changes. Together, our results show that the yeast killer system shows a remarkable potential for rapid multiple-level coevolution. PMID:27168531

  9. Characterization, Ecological Distribution, and Population Dynamics of Saccharomyces Sensu Stricto Killer Yeasts in the Spontaneous Grape Must Fermentations of Southwestern Spain

    PubMed Central

    Maqueda, Matilde; Zamora, Emiliano; Álvarez, María L.

    2012-01-01

    Killer yeasts secrete protein toxins that are lethal to sensitive strains of the same or related yeast species. Among the four types of Saccharomyces killer yeasts already described (K1, K2, K28, and Klus), we found K2 and Klus killer yeasts in spontaneous wine fermentations from southwestern Spain. Both phenotypes were encoded by medium-size double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) viruses, Saccharomyces cerevisiae virus (ScV)-M2 and ScV-Mlus, whose genome sizes ranged from 1.3 to 1.75 kb and from 2.1 to 2.3 kb, respectively. The K2 yeasts were found in all the wine-producing subareas for all the vintages analyzed, while the Klus yeasts were found in the warmer subareas and mostly in the warmer ripening/harvest seasons. The middle-size isotypes of the M2 dsRNA were the most frequent among K2 yeasts, probably because they encoded the most intense K2 killer phenotype. However, the smallest isotype of the Mlus dsRNA was the most frequent for Klus yeasts, although it encoded the least intense Klus killer phenotype. The killer yeasts were present in most (59.5%) spontaneous fermentations. Most were K2, with Klus being the minority. The proportion of killer yeasts increased during fermentation, while the proportion of sensitive yeasts decreased. The fermentation speed, malic acid, and wine organoleptic quality decreased in those fermentations where the killer yeasts replaced at least 15% of a dominant population of sensitive yeasts, while volatile acidity and lactic acid increased, and the amount of bacteria in the tumultuous and the end fermentation stages also increased in an unusual way. PMID:22101056

  10. Population substructure of North Atlantic minke whales ( Balaenoptera acutorostrata) inferred from regional variation of elemental and stable isotopic signatures in tissues

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Born, E. W.; Outridge, P.; Riget, F. F.; Hobson, K. A.; Dietz, R.; Øien, N.; Haug, T.

    2003-09-01

    Information on population structure is essential for estimating population demographics and managing the impacts of exploitation of North Atlantic minke whales ( Balaenoptera acutorostrata). New approaches including assessment of geochemical signatures in tissues can assist in defining such structure. This study determined regional variations in long-term elemental diagnostics of stock differences among 159 minke whales harvested in West Greenland, the Northeast Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea in 1998. The diagnostics tested included mercury (Hg), selenium (Se) and cadmium (Cd) in various tissues, and the trace and major element composition of baleen. Supporting data was also gathered on δ15N and δ13C and stable lead isotope ratios. For female whales, significant differences in at least one long-term diagnostic element occurred between several areas. Existence of the following population substructure was inferred: (a) West Greenland, (b) a central group represented by whales from Jan Mayen, (c) a northeastern stock encompassing the Barents Sea, Svalbard and coastal Norway, and (d) the North Sea. These groups were consistent with those defined genetically by Andersen et al. [Mar. Ecol., Prog. Ser. 247 (2003) 263]. Males appeared to fall into similar groupings to females but because of smaller sample sizes fewer significant differences occurred between areas. Stable-isotopic values in minke whales suggested lower trophic-level feeding in this species than hitherto suspected, with significant dietary differences between areas. Variations in feeding habits appeared to explain part of the geographical variation in tissue Cd, but not tissue Hg or Se. Differences among elements with a relatively long biological half-life in specific tissues suggested that groups of minke whales have fidelity to certain summer feeding areas at least for several years.

  11. Predicted decline of protected whales based on molecular genetic monitoring of Japanese and Korean markets.

    PubMed

    Baker, C S; Lento, G M; Cipriano, F; Palumbi, S R

    2000-06-22

    We present a two-tiered analysis of molecular genetic variation in order to determine the origins of whale' products purchased from retail markets in Japan and the Republic of (South) Korea during 1993-1999. This approach combined phylogenetic analysis of mitochondrial DNA sequences for identification of protected species with a statistical comparison of intraspecific haplotype frequencies for distinguishing regional subpopulations or 'stocks' hunted for scientific research by the Japanese and killed incidentally in coastal fisheries by the Koreans. The phylogenetic identification of 655 products included eight species or subspecies of baleen whales, sperm whales, a pygmy sperm whale, two species of beaked whales, porpoises, killer whales and numerous species of dolphins as well as domestic sheep and horses. Six of the baleen whale species (the fin, sei, common-form and small-form Bryde's, blue or blue/fin hybrid, and humpback) and the sperm whale are protected by international agreements dating back to at least 1989 for all species and 1966 for some species. We compared the haplotype frequencies from the Japanese market sample to those reported from scientific hunting in the western North Pacific stock for products derived from the exploited North Pacific minke whale. The market sample differed significantly from the scientific catch (p < 0.001), showing a greater than expected frequency of haplotypes characteristic of the protected Sea of Japan stock. We used a 'mixed-stock' analysis and maximum-likelihood methods to estimate that 31% (95% confidence interval 19-43%) of the market for this species originated from the Sea of Japan stock. The source of these products was assumed to be undocumented 'incidental takes' from fisheries' by-catch, although we cannot exclude the possibility of illegal hunting or smuggling. The demographic impact of this undocumented exploitation was evaluated using the model of population dynamics adopted by the Scientific Committee of

  12. Predicted decline of protected whales based on molecular genetic monitoring of Japanese and Korean markets.

    PubMed Central

    Baker, C S; Lento, G M; Cipriano, F; Palumbi, S R

    2000-01-01

    We present a two-tiered analysis of molecular genetic variation in order to determine the origins of whale' products purchased from retail markets in Japan and the Republic of (South) Korea during 1993-1999. This approach combined phylogenetic analysis of mitochondrial DNA sequences for identification of protected species with a statistical comparison of intraspecific haplotype frequencies for distinguishing regional subpopulations or 'stocks' hunted for scientific research by the Japanese and killed incidentally in coastal fisheries by the Koreans. The phylogenetic identification of 655 products included eight species or subspecies of baleen whales, sperm whales, a pygmy sperm whale, two species of beaked whales, porpoises, killer whales and numerous species of dolphins as well as domestic sheep and horses. Six of the baleen whale species (the fin, sei, common-form and small-form Bryde's, blue or blue/fin hybrid, and humpback) and the sperm whale are protected by international agreements dating back to at least 1989 for all species and 1966 for some species. We compared the haplotype frequencies from the Japanese market sample to those reported from scientific hunting in the western North Pacific stock for products derived from the exploited North Pacific minke whale. The market sample differed significantly from the scientific catch (p < 0.001), showing a greater than expected frequency of haplotypes characteristic of the protected Sea of Japan stock. We used a 'mixed-stock' analysis and maximum-likelihood methods to estimate that 31% (95% confidence interval 19-43%) of the market for this species originated from the Sea of Japan stock. The source of these products was assumed to be undocumented 'incidental takes' from fisheries' by-catch, although we cannot exclude the possibility of illegal hunting or smuggling. The demographic impact of this undocumented exploitation was evaluated using the model of population dynamics adopted by the Scientific Committee of

  13. Whales from Space: Counting Southern Right Whales by Satellite

    PubMed Central

    Fretwell, Peter T.; Staniland, Iain J.; Forcada, Jaume

    2014-01-01

    We describe a method of identifying and counting whales using very high resolution satellite imagery through the example of southern right whales breeding in part of the Golfo Nuevo, Península Valdés in Argentina. Southern right whales have been extensively hunted over the last 300 years and although numbers have recovered from near extinction in the early 20th century, current populations are fragmented and are estimated at only a small fraction of pre-hunting total. Recent extreme right whale calf mortality events at Península Valdés, which constitutes the largest single population, have raised fresh concern for the future of the species. The WorldView2 satellite has a maximum 50 cm resolution and a water penetrating coastal band in the far-blue part of the spectrum that allows it to see deeper into the water column. Using an image covering 113 km2, we identified 55 probable whales and 23 other features that are possibly whales, with a further 13 objects that are only detected by the coastal band. Comparison of a number of classification techniques, to automatically detect whale-like objects, showed that a simple thresholding technique of the panchromatic and coastal band delivered the best results. This is the first successful study using satellite imagery to count whales; a pragmatic, transferable method using this rapidly advancing technology that has major implications for future surveys of cetacean populations. PMID:24533131

  14. Whales from space: counting southern right whales by satellite.

    PubMed

    Fretwell, Peter T; Staniland, Iain J; Forcada, Jaume

    2014-01-01

    We describe a method of identifying and counting whales using very high resolution satellite imagery through the example of southern right whales breeding in part of the Golfo Nuevo, Península Valdés in Argentina. Southern right whales have been extensively hunted over the last 300 years and although numbers have recovered from near extinction in the early 20(th) century, current populations are fragmented and are estimated at only a small fraction of pre-hunting total. Recent extreme right whale calf mortality events at Península Valdés, which constitutes the largest single population, have raised fresh concern for the future of the species. The WorldView2 satellite has a maximum 50 cm resolution and a water penetrating coastal band in the far-blue part of the spectrum that allows it to see deeper into the water column. Using an image covering 113 km², we identified 55 probable whales and 23 other features that are possibly whales, with a further 13 objects that are only detected by the coastal band. Comparison of a number of classification techniques, to automatically detect whale-like objects, showed that a simple thresholding technique of the panchromatic and coastal band delivered the best results. This is the first successful study using satellite imagery to count whales; a pragmatic, transferable method using this rapidly advancing technology that has major implications for future surveys of cetacean populations. PMID:24533131

  15. Horizontal Movements, Migration Patterns, and Population Structure of Whale Sharks in the Gulf of Mexico and Northwestern Caribbean Sea

    PubMed Central

    Hueter, Robert E.; Tyminski, John P.; de la Parra, Rafael

    2013-01-01

    Whale sharks, Rhincodon typus, aggregate by the hundreds in a summer feeding area off the northeastern Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico, where the Gulf of Mexico meets the Caribbean Sea. The aggregation remains in the nutrient-rich waters off Isla Holbox, Isla Contoy and Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo for several months in the summer and then dissipates between August and October. Little has been known about where these sharks come from or migrate to after they disperse. From 2003–2012, we used conventional visual tags, photo-identification, and satellite tags to characterize the basic population structure and large-scale horizontal movements of whale sharks that come to this feeding area off Mexico. The aggregation comprised sharks ranging 2.5–10.0 m in total length and included juveniles, subadults, and adults of both sexes, with a male-biased sex ratio (72%). Individual sharks remained in the area for an estimated mean duration of 24–33 days with maximum residency up to about 6 months as determined by photo-identification. After leaving the feeding area the sharks showed horizontal movements in multiple directions throughout the Gulf of Mexico basin, the northwestern Caribbean Sea, and the Straits of Florida. Returns of individual sharks to the Quintana Roo feeding area in subsequent years were common, with some animals returning for six consecutive years. One female shark with an estimated total length of 7.5 m moved at least 7,213 km in 150 days, traveling through the northern Caribbean Sea and across the equator to the South Atlantic Ocean where her satellite tag popped up near the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. We hypothesize this journey to the open waters of the Mid-Atlantic was for reproductive purposes but alternative explanations are considered. The broad movements of whale sharks across multiple political boundaries corroborates genetics data supporting gene flow between geographically distinct areas and underscores the need for management and conservation strategies

  16. Horizontal movements, migration patterns, and population structure of whale sharks in the Gulf of Mexico and northwestern Caribbean sea.

    PubMed

    Hueter, Robert E; Tyminski, John P; de la Parra, Rafael

    2013-01-01

    Whale sharks, Rhincodon typus, aggregate by the hundreds in a summer feeding area off the northeastern Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico, where the Gulf of Mexico meets the Caribbean Sea. The aggregation remains in the nutrient-rich waters off Isla Holbox, Isla Contoy and Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo for several months in the summer and then dissipates between August and October. Little has been known about where these sharks come from or migrate to after they disperse. From 2003-2012, we used conventional visual tags, photo-identification, and satellite tags to characterize the basic population structure and large-scale horizontal movements of whale sharks that come to this feeding area off Mexico. The aggregation comprised sharks ranging 2.5-10.0 m in total length and included juveniles, subadults, and adults of both sexes, with a male-biased sex ratio (72%). Individual sharks remained in the area for an estimated mean duration of 24-33 days with maximum residency up to about 6 months as determined by photo-identification. After leaving the feeding area the sharks showed horizontal movements in multiple directions throughout the Gulf of Mexico basin, the northwestern Caribbean Sea, and the Straits of Florida. Returns of individual sharks to the Quintana Roo feeding area in subsequent years were common, with some animals returning for six consecutive years. One female shark with an estimated total length of 7.5 m moved at least 7,213 km in 150 days, traveling through the northern Caribbean Sea and across the equator to the South Atlantic Ocean where her satellite tag popped up near the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. We hypothesize this journey to the open waters of the Mid-Atlantic was for reproductive purposes but alternative explanations are considered. The broad movements of whale sharks across multiple political boundaries corroborates genetics data supporting gene flow between geographically distinct areas and underscores the need for management and conservation strategies for

  17. Investigating Population Genetic Structure in a Highly Mobile Marine Organism: The Minke Whale Balaenoptera acutorostrata acutorostrata in the North East Atlantic

    PubMed Central

    Quintela, María; Skaug, Hans J.; Øien, Nils; Haug, Tore; Seliussen, Bjørghild B.; Solvang, Hiroko K.; Pampoulie, Christophe; Kanda, Naohisa; Pastene, Luis A.; Glover, Kevin A.

    2014-01-01

    Inferring the number of genetically distinct populations and their levels of connectivity is of key importance for the sustainable management and conservation of wildlife. This represents an extra challenge in the marine environment where there are few physical barriers to gene-flow, and populations may overlap in time and space. Several studies have investigated the population genetic structure within the North Atlantic minke whale with contrasting results. In order to address this issue, we analyzed ten microsatellite loci and 331 bp of the mitochondrial D-loop on 2990 whales sampled in the North East Atlantic in the period 2004 and 2007–2011. The primary findings were: (1) No spatial or temporal genetic differentiations were observed for either class of genetic marker. (2) mtDNA identified three distinct mitochondrial lineages without any underlying geographical pattern. (3) Nuclear markers showed evidence of a single panmictic population in the NE Atlantic according STRUCTURE's highest average likelihood found at K = 1. (4) When K = 2 was accepted, based on the Evanno's test, whales were divided into two more or less equally sized groups that showed significant genetic differentiation between them but without any sign of underlying geographic pattern. However, mtDNA for these individuals did not corroborate the differentiation. (5) In order to further evaluate the potential for cryptic structuring, a set of 100 in silico generated panmictic populations was examined using the same procedures as above showing genetic differentiation between two artificially divided groups, similar to the aforementioned observations. This demonstrates that clustering methods may spuriously reveal cryptic genetic structure. Based upon these data, we find no evidence to support the existence of spatial or cryptic population genetic structure of minke whales within the NE Atlantic. However, in order to conclusively evaluate population structure within this highly mobile

  18. Diversity of killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptor genes in the Bengali population of northern West Bengal, India.

    PubMed

    Guha, P; Bhattacharjee, S; Chaudhuri, T K

    2014-12-01

    The Indian Subcontinent exhibits extensive diversity in its culture, religion, ethnicity and linguistic heritage, which symbolizes extensive genetic variations within the populations. The highly polymorphic Killer cell Immunoglobulin-like Receptor (KIR) family plays an important role in tracing genetic differentiation in human population. In this study, we aimed to analyse the KIR gene polymorphism in the Bengali population of northern West Bengal, India. To our knowledge, this is the first report on the KIR gene polymorphism in the Bengalis of West Bengal, India. Herein, we have studied the distribution of 14 KIR genes (KIR3DL1-3DL3, KIR2DL1-2DL5, KIR2DS1-2DS5 AND KIR3DS1) and two pseudogenes (KIR3DP1 and 2DP1) in the Bengalis. Apart from the framework genes (KIR2DL4, 3DL2, 3DL3 and 3DP1), which are present in all the individuals, the gene frequencies of other KIR genes varied between 0.34 and 0.88. Moreover, upon comparing the KIR polymorphism of the Bengalis with the available published data of other world populations, it has been found that the Indo-European-speaking Bengalis from the region share both Dravidian and Indo-Aryan gene pool with considerable influences of mongoloid and European descents. Furthermore, evidences from previously published data on human leucocyte antigen and Y-chromosome haplogroup diversity support the view. Our results will help to understand the genetic background of the Bengali population, in illustrating the population migration events in the eastern and north-eastern part of India, in explaining the extensive genetic admixture amongst the different linguistic groups of the region and also in KIR-related disease researches. PMID:25205074

  19. Reproductive system impairment of mice fed diets containing beluga whale blubber from the St Lawrence estuary and arctic populations.

    PubMed

    Ruby, Sylvia; Mendoza, Luz Tavera; Fournier, Michel; Brousseau, Pauline; Dégas, V

    2003-06-13

    The toxic potential of naturally relevant mixtures of PCBs and other organohalogens on the reproductive system of C57Bl/6 female mice was assessed. Mice were fed diets in which lipids were replaced by blubber of beluga whales from a highly contaminated population of the Saint Lawrence River, and a less contaminated population from the Arctic Ocean. Ratios of blubber from both sources were mixed in order to perform a dose-response study. Control mice were fed diets for 90 d in which fat was replaced by corn oil or beef tallow. There were no significant effects of diets on body, liver, spleen or thymus weights. Similarly ovulation occurred in all control and experimental groups. However, Graafian follicles from ovaries of mice fed contaminated diets showed abnormal development of oocytes. Cumulus granulosa cells bind normally to the oocyte prior to ovulation and are essential for sperm penetration and fertilization. These cells were absent in both Graafian follicles and ovulated oocytes in the oviduct of all groups fed contaminated diets. Oviducts of these mice revealed evidence of epithelial degeneration. These results suggest the female mouse reproductive system is sensitive to organohalogens and illustrate the toxic potential of contaminant mixtures as found in the less contaminated Arctic population. PMID:12775517

  20. Killer Cell Immunoglobulin-like Receptor Genotype and Haplotype Investigation of Natural Killer Cells from an Australian Population of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis Patients

    PubMed Central

    Huth, T. K.; Brenu, E. W.; Staines, D. R.; Marshall-Gradisnik, S. M.

    2016-01-01

    Killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptor (KIR) genes encode for activating and inhibitory surface receptors, which are correlated with the regulation of Natural Killer (NK) cell cytotoxic activity. Reduced NK cell cytotoxic activity has been consistently reported in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) patients, and KIR haplotypes and allelic polymorphism remain to be investigated. The aim of this article was to conduct a pilot study to examine KIR genotypes, haplotypes, and allelic polymorphism in CFS/ME patients and nonfatigued controls (NFCs). Comparison of KIR and allelic polymorphism frequencies revealed no significant differences between 20 CFS/ME patients and 20 NFCs. A lower frequency of the telomeric A/B motif (P < 0.05) was observed in CFS/ME patients compared with NFCs. This pilot study is the first to report the differences in the frequency of KIR on the telomeric A/B motif in CFS/ME patients. Further studies with a larger CFS/ME cohort are required to validate these results. PMID:27346947

  1. Killer Cell Immunoglobulin-like Receptor Genotype and Haplotype Investigation of Natural Killer Cells from an Australian Population of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis Patients.

    PubMed

    Huth, T K; Brenu, E W; Staines, D R; Marshall-Gradisnik, S M

    2016-01-01

    Killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptor (KIR) genes encode for activating and inhibitory surface receptors, which are correlated with the regulation of Natural Killer (NK) cell cytotoxic activity. Reduced NK cell cytotoxic activity has been consistently reported in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) patients, and KIR haplotypes and allelic polymorphism remain to be investigated. The aim of this article was to conduct a pilot study to examine KIR genotypes, haplotypes, and allelic polymorphism in CFS/ME patients and nonfatigued controls (NFCs). Comparison of KIR and allelic polymorphism frequencies revealed no significant differences between 20 CFS/ME patients and 20 NFCs. A lower frequency of the telomeric A/B motif (P < 0.05) was observed in CFS/ME patients compared with NFCs. This pilot study is the first to report the differences in the frequency of KIR on the telomeric A/B motif in CFS/ME patients. Further studies with a larger CFS/ME cohort are required to validate these results. PMID:27346947

  2. Human Circulating and Tissue-Resident CD56bright Natural Killer Cell Populations

    PubMed Central

    Melsen, Janine E.; Lugthart, Gertjan; Lankester, Arjan C.; Schilham, Marco W.

    2016-01-01

    Two human natural killer (NK) cell subsets are usually distinguished, displaying the CD56dimCD16+ and the CD56brightCD16−/+ phenotype. This distinction is based on NK cells present in blood, where the CD56dim NK cells predominate. However, CD56bright NK cells outnumber CD56dim NK cells in the human body due to the fact that they are predominant in peripheral and lymphoid tissues. Interestingly, within the total CD56bright NK cell compartment, a major phenotypical and functional diversity is observed, as demonstrated by the discovery of tissue-resident CD56bright NK cells in the uterus, liver, and lymphoid tissues. Uterus-resident CD56bright NK cells express CD49a while the liver- and lymphoid tissue-resident CD56bright NK cells are characterized by co-expression of CD69 and CXCR6. Tissue-resident CD56bright NK cells have a low natural cytotoxicity and produce little interferon-γ upon monokine stimulation. Their distribution and specific phenotype suggest that the tissue-resident CD56bright NK cells exert tissue-specific functions. In this review, we examine the CD56bright NK cell diversity by discussing the distribution, phenotype, and function of circulating and tissue-resident CD56bright NK cells. In addition, we address the ongoing debate concerning the developmental relationship between circulating CD56bright and CD56dim NK cells and speculate on the position of tissue-resident CD56bright NK cells. We conclude that distinguishing tissue-resident CD56bright NK cells from circulating CD56bright NK cells is a prerequisite for the better understanding of the specific role of CD56bright NK cells in the complex process of human immune regulation. PMID:27446091

  3. Population structure and residency of whale sharks Rhincodon typus at Utila, Bay Islands, Honduras.

    PubMed

    Fox, S; Foisy, I; De La Parra Venegas, R; Galván Pastoriza, B E; Graham, R T; Hoffmayer, E R; Holmberg, J; Pierce, S J

    2013-09-01

    There were 479 reported whale shark Rhincodon typus encounters between 1999 and 2011 at the island of Utila, which forms part of the Meso-American Barrier Reef System (MBRS) in the western Caribbean Sea. The majority of R. typus were found to feed on small bait fish associated with various tuna species. Ninety-five individual R. typus, ranging from 2 to 11 m total length (LT ), were identified through their unique spot patterns. A significant male bias (65%) was present. There was no significant difference between the mean ± s.d. LT of female (6·66 ± 1·65 m) and male (6·25 ± 1·60 m) R. typus. Most R. typus were transient to Utila, with 78% sighted only within a single calendar year, although some individuals were sighted in up to 5 years. Mean residency time was modelled to be 11·76 days using maximum likelihood methods. PMID:23991875

  4. Sound production by singing humpback whales.

    PubMed

    Mercado, Eduardo; Schneider, Jennifer N; Pack, Adam A; Herman, Louis M

    2010-04-01

    Sounds from humpback whale songs were analyzed to evaluate possible mechanisms of sound production. Song sounds fell along a continuum with trains of discrete pulses at one end and continuous tonal signals at the other. This graded vocal repertoire is comparable to that seen in false killer whales [Murray et al. (1998). J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 104, 1679-1688] and human singers, indicating that all three species generate sounds by varying the tension of pneumatically driven, vibrating membranes. Patterns in the spectral content of sounds and in nonlinear sound features show that resonating air chambers may also contribute to humpback whale sound production. Collectively, these findings suggest that categorizing individual units within songs into discrete types may obscure how singers modulate song features and illustrate how production-based characterizations of vocalizations can provide new insights into how humpback whales sing. PMID:20370048

  5. High thresholds for avoidance of sonar by free-ranging long-finned pilot whales (Globicephala melas).

    PubMed

    Antunes, R; Kvadsheim, P H; Lam, F P A; Tyack, P L; Thomas, L; Wensveen, P J; Miller, P J O

    2014-06-15

    The potential effects of exposing marine mammals to military sonar is a current concern. Dose-response relationships are useful for predicting potential environmental impacts of specific operations. To reveal behavioral response thresholds of exposure to sonar, we conducted 18 exposure/control approaches to 6 long-finned pilot whales. Source level and proximity of sonar transmitting one of two frequency bands (1-2 kHz and 6-7 kHz) were increased during exposure sessions. The 2-dimensional movement tracks were analyzed using a changepoint method to identify the avoidance response thresholds which were used to estimate dose-response relationships. No support for an effect of sonar frequency or previous exposures on the probability of response was found. Estimated response thresholds at which 50% of population show avoidance (SPLmax=170 dB re 1 μPa, SELcum=173 dB re 1 μPa(2) s) were higher than previously found for other cetaceans. The US Navy currently uses a generic dose-response relationship to predict the responses of cetaceans to naval active sonar, which has been found to underestimate behavioural impacts on killer whales and beaked whales. The navy curve appears to match more closely our results with long-finned pilot whales, though it might underestimate the probability of avoidance for pilot-whales at long distances from sonar sources. PMID:24820645

  6. Classification of large acoustic datasets using machine learning and crowdsourcing: application to whale calls.

    PubMed

    Shamir, Lior; Yerby, Carol; Simpson, Robert; von Benda-Beckmann, Alexander M; Tyack, Peter; Samarra, Filipa; Miller, Patrick; Wallin, John

    2014-02-01

    Vocal communication is a primary communication method of killer and pilot whales, and is used for transmitting a broad range of messages and information for short and long distance. The large variation in call types of these species makes it challenging to categorize them. In this study, sounds recorded by audio sensors carried by ten killer whales and eight pilot whales close to the coasts of Norway, Iceland, and the Bahamas were analyzed using computer methods and citizen scientists as part of the Whale FM project. Results show that the computer analysis automatically separated the killer whales into Icelandic and Norwegian whales, and the pilot whales were separated into Norwegian long-finned and Bahamas short-finned pilot whales, showing that at least some whales from these two locations have different acoustic repertoires that can be sensed by the computer analysis. The citizen science analysis was also able to separate the whales to locations by their sounds, but the separation was somewhat less accurate compared to the computer method. PMID:25234903

  7. Whaling: will the Phoenix rise again?

    PubMed

    Holt, Sidney J

    2007-08-01

    it has important implications for attempts by the international community either to bring a negotiated end to commercial whaling or to bring all whaling back under international control, as the international law of the sea requires, and to ensure that any permitted exploitation of recovered whale populations will be sustainable, under a precautionary regime. PMID:17597163

  8. Population Structure, Abundance and Movement of Whale Sharks in the Arabian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.

    PubMed

    Robinson, David P; Jaidah, Mohammed Y; Bach, Steffen; Lee, Katie; Jabado, Rima W; Rohner, Christoph A; March, Abi; Caprodossi, Simone; Henderson, Aaron C; Mair, James M; Ormond, Rupert; Pierce, Simon J

    2016-01-01

    Data on the occurrence of whale sharks, Rhincodon typus, in the Arabian Gulf and Gulf of Oman were collected by dedicated boat surveys and via a public-sightings scheme during the period from 2011 to 2014. A total of 422 individual whale sharks were photo-identified from the Arabian Gulf and the northern Gulf of Oman during that period. The majority of sharks (81%, n = 341) were encountered at the Al Shaheen area of Qatar, 90 km off the coast, with the Musandam region of Oman a secondary area of interest. At Al Shaheen, there were significantly more male sharks (n = 171) than females (n = 78; X2 = 17.52, P < 0.05). Mean estimated total length (TL) for sharks was 6.90 m ± 1.24 (median = 7 m; n = 296). Males (7.25 m ± 1.34; median = 8 m, n = 171) were larger than females (6.44 m ±1.09; median = 7 m, n = 78; Mann-Whitney U test, p < 0.01). Of the male sharks assessed for maturity 63% were mature (n = 81), with 50% attaining maturity by 7.29 m and 100% by 9.00 m. Two female sharks of >9 m individuals were visually assessed as pregnant. Connectivity among sharks sighted in Qatari, Omani and UAE waters was confirmed by individual spot pattern matches. A total of 13 identified sharks were re-sighted at locations other than that at which they were first sighted, including movements into and out of the Arabian Gulf through the Strait of Hormuz. Maximum likelihood techniques were used to model an estimated combined population for the Arabian Gulf and Gulf of Oman of 2837 sharks ± 1243.91 S.E. (95% C.I. 1720-6295). The Al Shaheen aggregation is thus the first site described as being dominated by mature males while the free-swimming pregnant females are the first reported from the Indian Ocean. PMID:27362839

  9. Population Structure, Abundance and Movement of Whale Sharks in the Arabian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman

    PubMed Central

    Robinson, David P.; Jaidah, Mohammed Y.; Bach, Steffen; Lee, Katie; Jabado, Rima W.; Rohner, Christoph A.; March, Abi; Caprodossi, Simone; Henderson, Aaron C.; Mair, James M.; Ormond, Rupert; Pierce, Simon J.

    2016-01-01

    Data on the occurrence of whale sharks, Rhincodon typus, in the Arabian Gulf and Gulf of Oman were collected by dedicated boat surveys and via a public-sightings scheme during the period from 2011 to 2014. A total of 422 individual whale sharks were photo-identified from the Arabian Gulf and the northern Gulf of Oman during that period. The majority of sharks (81%, n = 341) were encountered at the Al Shaheen area of Qatar, 90 km off the coast, with the Musandam region of Oman a secondary area of interest. At Al Shaheen, there were significantly more male sharks (n = 171) than females (n = 78; X2 = 17.52, P < 0.05). Mean estimated total length (TL) for sharks was 6.90 m ± 1.24 (median = 7 m; n = 296). Males (7.25 m ± 1.34; median = 8 m, n = 171) were larger than females (6.44 m ±1.09; median = 7 m, n = 78; Mann-Whitney U test, p < 0.01). Of the male sharks assessed for maturity 63% were mature (n = 81), with 50% attaining maturity by 7.29 m and 100% by 9.00 m. Two female sharks of >9 m individuals were visually assessed as pregnant. Connectivity among sharks sighted in Qatari, Omani and UAE waters was confirmed by individual spot pattern matches. A total of 13 identified sharks were re-sighted at locations other than that at which they were first sighted, including movements into and out of the Arabian Gulf through the Strait of Hormuz. Maximum likelihood techniques were used to model an estimated combined population for the Arabian Gulf and Gulf of Oman of 2837 sharks ± 1243.91 S.E. (95% C.I. 1720–6295). The Al Shaheen aggregation is thus the first site described as being dominated by mature males while the free-swimming pregnant females are the first reported from the Indian Ocean. PMID:27362839

  10. Baseline histopathological survey of a recently invading island population of 'killer shrimp', Dikerogammarus villosus.

    PubMed

    Bojko, J; Stebbing, P D; Bateman, K S; Meatyard, J E; Bacela-Spychalska, K; Dunn, A M; Stentiford, G D

    2013-11-01

    Dikerogammarus villosus, an invasive amphipod, has recently been detected in UK freshwaters. To assess the potential for pathogen introduction with the invader, a year-long histopathology survey of the D. villosus population inhabiting the initial site of detection (Grafham Water, Cambridgeshire, UK) was conducted. Additional samples were collected from 2 other subsequently identified populations within the UK (Cardiff Bay and Norfolk Broads), and from established populations in France (River Rhine) and Poland (River Vistula). The data revealed a range of pathogens and commensals. Several pathogens occurring within continental populations were not present within the UK populations. Microsporidian parasites and a novel viral pathogen were amongst those not observed in the UK. The absence of these pathogens at UK sites may therefore impart significant survival advantages to D. villosus over native fauna, thereby increasing its success as an invader. The contrast in pathogen profile between UK and continental-invasive populations of D. villosus provides preliminary evidence for so-called 'enemy release' in UK populations of D. villosus and is suggestive of single-point introductions, rather than continual incursion events as previously observed throughout its continental invasive range. This baseline survey provides important data on the pathogen and commensal profile of a high-impact, invasive species early in its invasion history of the UK. It can be utilised to assess potential for temporal pathogen acquisition by non-native invasive aquatic species and to investigate competitive advantages placed upon this invader due to absence of important pathogens experienced within its native range. PMID:24192001