Deep–diving behaviour of the northern bottlenose whale, Hyperoodon ampullatus (Cetacea: Ziphiidae)

Sascha K. Hooker, Robin W. Baird

Abstract

Using suction–cup attached time–depth recorder/VHF radio tags, we have obtained the first diving data on northern bottlenose whales (Hyperoodon ampullatus), the first such data on any species within the family Ziphiidae. Two deployments in 1997 on northern bottlenose whales in a submarine canyon off Nova Scotia demonstrated their exceptional diving ability, with dives approximately every 80 min to over 800 m (maximum 1453 m), and up to 70 min in duration. Sonar traces of non–tagged, diving bottlenose whales in 1996 and 1997 suggest that such deep dives are not unusual. This combined evidence leads us to hypothesize that these whales may make greater use of deep portions of the water column than any other mammal so far studied. Many of the recorded dives of the tagged animals were to, or close to, the sea floor, consistent with benthic or bathypelagic foraging. A lack of correlation between dive times and surface intervals suggests that the dives were predominately aerobic.

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