Polar Biology

, Volume 20, Issue 3, pp 218–228

Dive form and function in belugas Delphinapterus leucas of the eastern Canadian High Arctic

Authors

  • A. R. Martin
    • Sea Mammal Research Unit, Gatty Marine Laboratory, University of St Andrews, St Andrews, Fife KY16 8LB, UK
  • T. G. Smith
    • Eco Marine Corporation, 3027 Rosalie Road, Ladysmith, British Columbia, VOR 2EO, Canada
  • O. P. Cox
    • Sea Mammal Research Unit, Gatty Marine Laboratory, University of St Andrews, St Andrews, Fife KY16 8LB, UK
ORIGINAL PAPER

DOI: 10.1007/s003000050299

Cite this article as:
Martin, A., Smith, T. & Cox, O. Polar Biol (1998) 20: 218. doi:10.1007/s003000050299

Abstract

The underwater behaviour of 11 belugas or white whales was examined during summer using time-at-depth records relayed by satellite-linked data-loggers. Simultaneous tracking information was obtained for each whale. Eight distinct dive profiles were identified in submergences made to depths of >40 m. Four of these, together comprising 84% of these “deep” dives, were of a square profile. They were characterised by a continuous descent to a particular depth (usually the sea bed), a “bottom phase” at or near that depth, and a direct ascent to the surface. These dives are presumed to be made for benthic foraging. Other, much less common, dive shapes were “V”-shaped, parabolic and trapezoidal. “Shallow” dives (15–40 m depth) were of a variety of shapes, short duration and high average horizontal speeds. Many probably occurred during periods of directed travel. This population of belugas treats most of the water column as dead space separating resources of oxygen and nutrition.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1998