Marine Biology

, Volume 159, Issue 1, pp 151–164

Contrasting C and N isotope ratios from sperm whale skin and squid between the Gulf of Mexico and Gulf of California: effect of habitat

  • R. I. Ruiz-Cooley
  • D. T. Engelhaupt
  • J. G. Ortega-Ortiz
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s00227-011-1795-3

Cite this article as:
Ruiz-Cooley, R.I., Engelhaupt, D.T. & Ortega-Ortiz, J.G. Mar Biol (2012) 159: 151. doi:10.1007/s00227-011-1795-3


To investigate feeding variation between populations of an apex oceanic predator, stable isotope ratios of carbon (δ13C) and nitrogen (δ15N) have been compared in skin of female and immature male sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) from the northern Gulf of Mexico (GoM) and the Gulf of California (GC). Whale sexes were determined genetically. The δ13C and δ15N values from squid muscle were used from the GC, and from inshore and offshore sites in the GoM. We documented contrastingly lower δ13C and δ15N from whales and squid of the GoM compared with those from the GC. While this difference may be associated with variation in trophic position, geographic variation in biochemical cycling influenced significantly the contrasting isotope values between gulfs. Within the northern GoM, the highly distinct δ15N values of neritic squid versus mesopelagic squid provide further evidence of habitat specificity in δ15N.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. I. Ruiz-Cooley
    • 1
    • 2
  • D. T. Engelhaupt
    • 3
  • J. G. Ortega-Ortiz
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of BiologyNew Mexico State UniversityLas CrucesUSA
  2. 2.Protected Resources DivisionSouthwest Fisheries Science Center, NOAA FisheriesLa JollaUSA
  3. 3.School of Biological and Biomedical SciencesUniversity of DurhamDurhamUK
  4. 4.St. PetersburgUSA