Meeting Abstract

S1-2.4  Wednesday, Jan. 4  Using high-resolution acoustic tags to determine the kinematics and maneuverability of the world's largest whales. GOLDBOGEN, Jeremy; Cascadia Research Collective

The advent of digital tags has revolutionized the study of animal movement in their natural environment, particularly for cetaceans which are difficult to study in both the lab and the wild. A class of acoustic, suction-cup attached tags represents the most common approach for studying the fine-scale movement of cetaceans during diverse locomotor behaviors. Present day tags equipped with pressure transducers, hydrophones, and tri-axial accelerometers and magnetometers enable the determination of 4 of 6 kinematic degrees of freedom. Here I quantitatively describe three-dimensional body kinematics for rorqual whales (Balaenopteridae) engaged in a variety of maneuvers, and analyzed the extent to which rotations about three orthogonal body axes were coupled with the forward speed of the body. These data represent a first approximation for quantifying the large repertoire of maneuvering behaviors exhibited by rorquals, and also characterize maximum performance during extreme maneuvers (i.e. lunge feeding). These kinematic data have revealed new mechanisms of engulfment, provided estimates for the energetic cost of feeding, and prompted investigations into the bizarre morphological adaptations that facilitate this unique feeding behavior.