Upside-down swimming behaviour of free-ranging narwhals
Additional file 1: Crittercam AVI footage of a surfacing narwhal for internet version of the article (Narwhal surfacing.avi) (5.744Mb)
Shapiro, Ari D.
Tyack, Peter L.
Eskesen, Ida Gronborg
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Free-ranging narwhals (Monodon monoceros) were instrumented in Admiralty Inlet, Canada with both satellite tags to study migration and stock separation and short-term, high-resolution digital archival tags to explore diving and feeding behaviour. Three narwhals were equipped with an underwater camera pod (Crittercam), another individual was equipped with a digital archival tag (DTAG), and a fifth with both units during August 2003 and 2004. Crittercam footage indicated that of the combined 286 minutes of recordings, 12% of the time was spent along the bottom. When the bottom was visible in the camera footage, the narwhals were oriented upside-down 80% of the time (range: 61 100%). The DTAG data (14.6 hours of recordings) revealed that during time spent below the surface, the two tagged narwhals were supine an average of 13% (range: 9–18%) of the time. Roughly 70% of this time spent in a supine posture occurred during the descent. Possible reasons for this upside-down swimming behaviour are discussed. No preference for a clockwise or counter-clockwise direction of roll was observed, discounting the possibility that rolling movements contribute to the asymmetric left-handed helical turns of the tusk.
© 2007 Dietz et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The definitive version was published in BMC Ecology 7 (2007): 14, doi:10.1186/1472-6785-7-14.
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