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Marine Species Monitoring

Tagging Deep Diving Odontocetes Off Cape Hatteras - Part 3

Posted on September 26, 2014

The third and final field session of the season recently wrapped up for our deep diving odontocete tagging project off Cape Hatteras, NC.  This project is a collaborative effort between the Marine Conservation Ecology group at Duke University Marine Lab and Cascadia Research Collective. The project focuses on the ecology and movements of several species of marine mammals including short-finned pilot whales and beaked whales. 

Gm_Waples_sm.jpgShort-finned pilot whale equipped with a satellite transmitter off Cape Hatteras. Photo credit - Danielle Waples, Duke University.

Despite the apparent challenges of working offshore in a small boat searching for animals that surface infreequently and can dive for over 30min at a time, this has been a very productive field season. On the final day of the project the tagging team managed to find and track a group of 5-6 Cuvier’s beaked whales long enough to deploy the last two satellite tags, one location and depth-transmitting tag (Mk-10) and one location-only tag (SPOT).  We anticipate that the tags will track the movements and dive patterns of these two individuals for 30-45 days.

20140916_S4_Zca_DMW_4441sm.jpg

Cuvier's beaked whale off Cape hatteras, NC. Photo credit - Danielle Waples, Duke University.

The final tagging tally for this season was 5 offshore bottlenose dolphins, 3 Cuvier's beaked whales, 1 common dolphin, and 18 short-finned pilot whales. Tracking data from all of these tags is being updated regularly to movebank.org.  You can also read more in the following blog posts from the field - Fall Tagging Project off Cape Hatteras and Beaker Madness.

20140916_S4_Zca_DMW_4427sm.jpgCuvier's beaked whale equipped with a satellite-linked transmitter off Cape hatteras, NC. Photo credit - Danielle Wamples, Duke University.