Odontocete occurrence in relation to changes in oceanography at a remote equatorial Pacific seamount

Baumann-Pickering, S, Trickey JS, Wiggins SM, Oleson EM.  2016.  Odontocete occurrence in relation to changes in oceanography at a remote equatorial Pacific seamount. Marine Mammal Science.

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beaked whale, dolphin, ecology, hotspot, long-term monitoring, Oceanography, odontocetes, Passive acoustics, seamount


Seamounts are considered hot spots of biodiversity and can aggregate pelagic predators and their prey. Passive acoustic monitoring was conducted over 3 mo in 2012 to document the occurrence of odontocetes near a seamount chain in the central equatorial Pacific in relation to oceanographic changes over time. Beaked whale echolocation signals were most frequently encountered. The main beaked whale signal was an unknown type, BW38, which resembled signals produced by Blainville's beaked whales. It had high occurrence during high sea surface temperature and low sea surface salinity. Cuvier's beaked whales were the second most detected. They had an opposite pattern and were encountered more often when sea surface temperature was low and net primary productivity was high. Risso's dolphins and short-finned pilot whales had high acoustic densities, and echolocated predominantly at night. Risso's dolphins occurred more often during low sea surface height deviation. False killer whales were less frequently detected and mostly occurred during the day. Sperm whale detections were fewer than expected and associated with high chlorophyll a. Short duration Kogiidae encounters occurred on average every third day. These types of long-term site studies are an informative tool to comparatively assess species composition, relative abundance, and relationship to oceanographic changes.