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Diving behaviour of white-chinned petrels and its relevance for mitigating longline bycatch

Abstract

The white-chinned petrel (Procellaria aequinoctialis) is the seabird species most commonly killed by Southern Hemisphere longline fisheries. Despite the importance of diving ability for mitigating longline bycatch, little is known of this species’ diving behaviour. We obtained data from temperature–depth recorders from nine white-chinned petrels breeding on Marion Island, southwestern Indian Ocean, during the late incubation and chick-rearing period. Maximum dive depth (16 m) was slightly deeper than the previous estimate (13 m), but varied considerably among individuals (range 2–16 m). Males dived deeper than females, and birds feeding chicks dived deeper than incubating birds, but dive rate did not differ between the sexes. Time of day had no significant effect on dive depth or rate. Our findings will help to improve the design and performance of mitigation measures aimed at reducing seabird bycatch in longline fisheries, such as the calculation of minimum line sink rates and optimum aerial coverage of bird-scaring lines.

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Acknowledgments

We thank Otto Whitehead for help using Igor Pro to analyse diving depths, Dominic Henry and Tim Reid for their help with data analysis, and Yan Ropert-Coudert for providing GPS loggers. Financial and logistical support was received from the South African National Antarctic Programme, through the National Research Foundation, and the South African Department of Environmental Affairs.

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Correspondence to D. P. Rollinson.

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Rollinson, D.P., Dilley, B.J. & Ryan, P.G. Diving behaviour of white-chinned petrels and its relevance for mitigating longline bycatch. Polar Biol 37, 1301–1308 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00300-014-1521-y

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00300-014-1521-y

Keywords

  • Dive depth
  • Dive duration
  • Temperature–depth recorders
  • Seabirds
  • Bird-scaring lines