Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

Swimming gaits, passive drag and buoyancy of diving sperm whales Physeter macrocephalus.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

DOI

Abstract

Drag and buoyancy are two primary external forces acting on diving marine mammals. The strength of these forces modulates the energetic cost of movement and may influence swimming style (gait). Here we use a high-resolution digital tag to record depth, 3-D orientation, and sounds heard and produced by 23 deep-diving sperm whales in the Ligurian Sea and Gulf of Mexico. Periods of active thrusting versus gliding were identified through analysis of oscillations measured by a 3-axis accelerometer. Accelerations during 382 ascent glides of five whales (which made two or more steep ascents and for which we obtained a measurement of length) were strongly affected by depth and speed at Reynold's numbers of 1.4-2.8x10(7). The accelerations fit a model of drag, air buoyancy and tissue buoyancy forces with an r(2) of 99.1-99.8% for each whale. The model provided estimates (mean +/- S.D.) of the drag coefficient (0.00306+/-0.00015), air carried from the surface (26.4+/-3.9 l kg(-3) mass), and tissue density (1030+/-0.8 kg m(-3)) of these five animals. The model predicts strong positive buoyancy forces in the top 100 in of the water column, decreasing to near neutral buoyancy at 250-850 m. Mean descent speeds (1.45+/-0.19 m s(-1)) were slower than ascent speeds (1.63+/-0.22 m s(-1)), even though sperm whales stroked steadily (glides 5.3+/-6.3%) throughout descents and employed predominantly stroke-and-glide swimming (glides 37.7+/-16.4%) during ascents. Whales glided more during portions of dives when buoyancy aided their movement, and whales that glided more during ascent glided less during descent (and vice versa), supporting the hypothesis that buoyancy influences behavioural swimming decisions. One whale rested at similar to10 m depth for more than 10 min without fluking, regulating its buoyancy by releasing air bubbles.

Close

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1953-1967
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Volume207
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2004

    Research areas

  • drag, buoyancy, sperm whale, Physeter macrocephalus, swimming gait, diving, MARINE MAMMALS, BODY-FAT, SEALS, BEHAVIOR, ORGAN, DEPTH, COST, TAG, PROPULSION, CETACEANS

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. Short-term responses of sperm whales Physeter macrocephalus to the attachment of suction cup tags

    Warren, V. E., Miller, P. J. O. & Tyack, P. L., 9 Jul 2020, In: Marine Ecology Progress Series. 645, p. 219-234 16 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  2. Evidence for discrimination between feeding sounds of familiar fish and unfamiliar mammal-eating killer whale ecotypes by long-finned pilot whales

    Curé, C., Isojunno, S., I Vester, H., Visser, F., Oudejans, M., Biassoni, N., Massenet, M., Barluet de Beauchesne, L., J Wensveen, P., Sivle, L. D., Tyack, P. L. & Miller, P. J. O., Sep 2019, In: Animal Cognition. 22, 5, p. 863-882 20 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  3. Northern bottlenose whales in a pristine environment respond strongly to close and distant navy sonar signals

    Wensveen, P. J., Isojunno, S., Hansen, R. R., Von Benda-beckmann, A. M., Kleivane, L., Van Ijsselmuide, S., Lam, F-P. A., Kvadsheim, P. H., DeRuiter, S. L., Curé, C., Narazaki, T., Tyack, P. L. & Miller, P. J. O., 27 Mar 2019, In: Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 286, 1899, 10 p., 20182592.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  4. Marine mammals and sonar: dose-response studies, the risk-disturbance hypothesis and the role of exposure context

    Harris, C. M., Thomas, L., Falcone, E., Hildebrand, J., Houser, D., Kvadsheim, P., Lam, F-P. A., Miller, P., Moretti, D. J., Read, A., Slabbekoorn, H., Southall, B. L., Tyack, P. L., Wartzok, D. & Janik, V. M., Jan 2018, In: Journal of Applied Ecology. 55, 1, p. 396-404

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

  5. Lack of behavioural responses of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) indicate limited effectiveness of sonar mitigation

    Wensveen, P. J., Kvadsheim, P. H., Lam, F-P. A., von Benda-Beckmann, A. M., Sivle, L. D., Visser, F., Curé, C., Tyack, P. L. & Miller, P. J. O., 15 Nov 2017, In: Journal of Experimental Biology. 220, 22, p. 4150-4161

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Related by journal

  1. Acceleration-triggered animal-borne videos show a dominance of fish in the diet of female northern elephant seals

    Yoshino, K., Takahashi, A., Adachi, T., Costa, D. P., Robinson, P. W., Peterson, S. H., Hückstädt, L. A., Holser, R. R. & Naito, Y., 28 Feb 2020, In: Journal of Experimental Biology. 223, 5, 9 p., jeb212936.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  2. Diving apart together: call propagation in diving long-finned pilot whales

    Kok, A. C. M., van Kolfshoten, L., Campbell, J. A., von Benda-Beckmann, A. M., Miller, P. J. O., Slabbekoorn, H. & Visser, F., 27 May 2020, In: Journal of Experimental Biology. 223, 10, 11 p., jeb207878.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  3. Dynamic biosonar adjustment strategies in deep-diving Risso's dolphins driven partly by prey evasion

    Jensen, F. H., Keller, O. A., Tyack, P. L. & Visser, F., Feb 2020, In: Journal of Experimental Biology. 223, 9 p., jeb216283.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  4. Energy compensation and received echo level dynamics in constant-frequency bats during active target approaches

    Stidsholt, L., Müller, R., Beedholm, K., Ma, H., Johnson, M. & Madsen, P. T., 28 Jan 2020, In: Journal of Experimental Biology. 223, 2, 9 p., jeb217109.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  5. Flash and grab: deep-diving southern elephant seals trigger anti-predator flashes in bioluminescent prey

    Goulet, P., Guinet, C., Campagna, C., Campagna, J., Tyack, P. L. & Johnson, M., 19 May 2020, In: Journal of Experimental Biology. 223, 10, 11 p., jeb.222810.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

ID: 363821

Top