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Sperm whale habitat use and foraging success of northern Chile: Evidence of ecological links between coastal and pelagic systems

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Cold water upwelling along the coast of Chile drives some of the most Productive marine ecosystems in the world; one exam le is the Mejillones upwelling system at 23degreesS. We studied. p I the distribution, movements and foraging success of the sperm whale Physeter macrocephalus off the northern coast of Chile (18degrees30'S to 25degreesS) over a 9 mo period. We used a small sailing vessel to survey the area using visual and acoustic methods, and followed any sperm whale groups encountered, collecting defecation rate data as an index of foraging success. Both encounter and defecation rates were greater in the southern part of the study area (> 22degrees 30' S) relative to the north, coinciding with the Mejillones upwelling. Movement patterns were also markedly different, with groups in the southern part of the area having smaller net 12 h displacements, and less directionality, than those in the north, such that they tended to remain in the area associated with high defecation rates. We suggest that the greater foraging success off Mejillones was due to upwelled water being entrained offshore and southward by local physical oceanography, making productivity from coastal upwelling available offshore to pelagic predators.

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Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)289-295
Number of pages7
JournalMarine Ecology Progress Series
Volume275
Publication statusPublished - 2004

    Research areas

  • sperm whale, distribution, movements, foraging, upwelling, CHLOROPHYLL-A DISTRIBUTION, HUMBOLDT CURRENT SYSTEM, PHYSETER-MACROCEPHALUS, FEEDING SUCCESS, OCEANOGRAPHIC CONDITIONS, SPATIAL-DISTRIBUTION, CALANUS-CHILENSIS, MEJILLONES, PENINSULA, REGION

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