Thursday, November 6, 2014, 11:00 AM CT
Register at http://www.serdp-estcp.org/Tools-and-Training/Webinar-Series/11-06-2014
For other webinars in the series, visit http://www.serdp-estcp.org/Tools-and-Training/Webinar-Series. The topics are fairly wide-ranging.
The Relationship of Body Condition of Whales with Behavior and Reproductive Status by Dr. Patrick Miller
The risk of harm to cetaceans from underwater noise is an important environmental and regulatory issue faced by the Department of Defense, in particular the Navy. Noise may reduce foraging rates and thereby body condition, which is a good predictor of offspring survival and reproductive success. Current methods for estimating body condition in cetaceans, however, are descriptive or do not measure full-body fat (lipid) stores. This project is validating and using a novel, non-invasive method to measure total body lipid-stores of free-ranging cetaceans. The cornerstone of the approach is to measure body density of tagged animals, which corresponds to lipid content (fat stores) in mammals because lipids are less dense than other compartments (e.g., bone, skin). The two target species, Northern bottlenose and humpback whales, are being studied in established field sites in the North Atlantic Ocean. Results are validating an innovative technique to measure body condition in cetaceans and enable examining the interplay of body condition with foraging and anti-predator behaviors and the reproductive status of females.
Deep Mapping Squid-Feeding Whales and Their Prey Fields by Dr. Kelly Benoit-Bird
Deep-diving teuthivorous (squid-feeding) whales that have posed concerns related to sound exposure from Navy sonars. In the last decade great progress has been made in understanding the behavior and biology of whales such as sperm and beaked whales that feed primarily on squid. Studying their prey, however, has presented difficulties because of the squids’ rapid speed, relatively large size, and foraging depth. This project is developing an effective, easily deployed, adaptable remote sensing tool for measuring both the prey field and occupancy patterns of sperm and beaked whales to depths of at least 1200 m and utilizing this tool to understand how prey affects the behavior of deep-diving whales and how this behavior may affect sound exposure risk. The tool was developed by integrating an echosounder into an existing REMUS 600 UUV and developing onboard acoustical data processing capabilities within the integrated echosounder module. Results from a field expedition in and around the Navy’s Southern California Offshore Range (SCORE) are providing insights into how beaked whales use their habitat and into the prey that is critical for their survival.