Application of Suction-cup-attached VHF Transmitters to the Study of Beluga, Delphinapterus leucas, Surfacing Behavior in Cook Inlet, Alaska

Lerczak, James A. and Shelden , Kim E. W. and Hobbs , Roderick C. (2000) Application of Suction-cup-attached VHF Transmitters to the Study of Beluga, Delphinapterus leucas, Surfacing Behavior in Cook Inlet, Alaska. Marine Fisheries Review, 62(3), pp. 99-111.

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Abstract

Suction-cup-attached VHF radio transmittes were deployed on belugas, Delphinapterus leucas, in Cook Inlet, Alaska, in 1994 and 1995 to characterize the whales' surfacing behavior. Data from video recordings were also used to characterize behavior of undisturbed whales and whales actively pursued for tagging. Statistics for dive intervals (time between the midpoints of contiguous surfacings) and surfacing intevals (time at the surface per surfacing) were estimated. Operations took place on the tidal delta of the Susitna and Little Susitna Rivers. During the 2-yr study, eight whales were successfully tagged, five tags remained attached for >60 min, and data from these were used in the analyses. Mean dive interval was 24.1 sec (interwhale SD=6.4 sec, n=5). The mean surfacing interval, as determined from the duration of signals received from the radio transmitters, was 1.8 sec (SD=0.3 sec, n=125) for one of the whales. Videotaped behaviors were categorized as "head-lifts" or "slow-rolls." Belugas were more likely to head-lift than to slow-roll during vessel approaches and tagging attempts when compared to undisturbed whales. In undisturbed groups, surfacing intervals determined from video records were significantly different between head-lifting (average = 1.02 sect, SD=0.38 sed, n=28) and slow-rolling whales (average = 2.45 sec, SD=0.37 sec, n=106). Undisturbed juveniles exhibited shorter slow-roll surfacing intervals (average = 2.25 sec, SD=0.32 sec, n=36) than adults (average = 2.55 sec, SD=0.36 sec, n=70). We did not observe strong reactions by the belugas to the suction-cup tags. This tagging method shows promise for obtaining surfacing data for durations of several days.

Item Type: Article
Title: Application of Suction-cup-attached VHF Transmitters to the Study of Beluga, Delphinapterus leucas, Surfacing Behavior in Cook Inlet, Alaska
Personal Creator/Author:
CreatorsEmail
Lerczak, James A.
Shelden , Kim E. W.
Hobbs , Roderick C.
Refereed: Yes
Journal or Publication Title: Marine Fisheries Review
Volume: 62
Number: 3
Page Range: pp. 99-111
Date: 2000
ISSN: 0090-1830
Issuing Agency: United States National Marine Fisheries Service
Subjects: Biology
Ecology
Fisheries
Item ID: 9773
Depositing User: Patti M. Marraro
Date Deposited: 14 Aug 2012 20:25
Last Modified: 14 Aug 2012 20:25
URI: http://aquaticcommons.org/id/eprint/9773

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