A preliminary investigation into the ecology and behavior of blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus) in the Gulf of Corcovado, Chile
Hickmott, Leigh S.
Landea Briones, Rafaela
Sayigh, Laela S.
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LocationGulf of Corcovado, Chile
KeywordAnimal radio tracking
A joint effort between WHOI and the Melimoyu Ecosystem Research Institute (MERI) sought to gain a better understanding of a population of blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus) in the Gulf of Corcovado, Chile. A cruise in March 2014 resulted in the deployment of 5 DTAGs, which are miniature sound and orientation recording tags that are attached via suction cups. A total of five tag deployments on four individual whales were achieved, totaling 21 hr 11 min. Dives were predominantly between 10 and 50 m in depth, with a maximum of 139 m. Sloughed skin found on the suction cups of recovered tags and fecal samples were preserved to be used for genetic, dietary and pollutant analyses. Acoustic data on the tags revealed numerous calls from distant blue whales, and an apparent call exchange was recorded between a tagged juvenile whale and a distant animal. Photo-identification images and acoustic recordings of all marine mammal species encountered were obtained whenever possible; these included humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae), Peale’s dolphins (Lagenorhynchus australis), Chilean dolphins (Cephalorhynchus eutropia), and bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus). Continuation of this collaboration has great potential to provide information to policy makers regarding how to protect the unique habitats in this region.