Polar Biology

, Volume 26, Issue 5, pp 311–317 | Cite as

A method for reconstructing three-dimensional dive profiles of marine mammals using geomagnetic intensity data: results from two lactating Weddell seals

  • Yoko Mitani
  • Katsufumi Sato
  • Shinichiro Ito
  • Michael F. Cameron
  • Donald B. Siniff
  • Yasuhiko Naito
Original Paper


The under-ice behavior of two free-ranging female Weddell seals (Leptonychotes weddellii) was studied using geomagnetic, acceleration and velocity sensors at Big Razorback Island in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica. The seals' body angle and posture were calculated from the acceleration data and the heading from the geomagnetic intensity data. Together with swim speed, the seals' three-dimensional underwater dive path, heading and even posture were reconstructed for each dive. Each instrument was deployed for 2 days, during which time these females made multiple, deep (≥50 m) dives, with average maximum depths of 236±27 m (n=4) and 244±121 m (n=40). Each seal appeared to choose a particular heading on which to descend. These headings were significantly different between seals and bouts (Watson's U 2 test, P<0.05). These new instruments and methodologies are shown to provide valuable information on the fine-scale and complex movements of diving animals.


Swimming Speed Dead Reckoning Weddell Seal Dive Duration Body Angle 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank C. Counard, S. Dahle, D. MacNulty, K. Krysl, H. Reider, E. Morton, and G. Wong for their assistance with the fieldwork. We are also grateful to H. Tanaka, S. Minamikawa, and C. Tsushima for the propeller calibration experiments. The experimental protocol was previously approved by the National Marine Fisheries Service, Marine Mammal Protection Agency. The fieldwork was conducted at McMurdo Station of the United States Antarctic Program. This work was partly supported by a Grant-in-Aid from the Japan Society for the promotion of Science (11691197 and 14405027), the Sasakawa Scientific Research Grant from the Japan Science Society (14-368M), and the National Science Foundation (OPP-9420818).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yoko Mitani
    • 1
  • Katsufumi Sato
    • 1
    • 2
  • Shinichiro Ito
    • 3
  • Michael F. Cameron
    • 4
    • 5
  • Donald B. Siniff
    • 4
  • Yasuhiko Naito
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Polar ScienceThe Graduate University for Advanced StudiesTokyoJapan
  2. 2.National Institute of Polar ResearchTokyoJapan
  3. 3.Department of Mechanical EngineeringNational Defense AcademyYokosukaJapan
  4. 4.Department of Ecology, Evolution, and BehaviorUniversity of MinnesotaSt. PaulUSA
  5. 5.National Marine Mammal Laboratory/NOAASeattleUSA

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