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Geographic Distribution of the Cross Seamount Beaked Whale Based on Acoustic Detections

August 08, 2023

The foraging behavior of Cross Seamount beaked whales appears to be unique among all beaked whales.

Beaked whales produce pulses that appear to be species-specific, allowing passive acoustic monitoring to play a role in understanding space and time related patterns. The Cross Seamount beaked whale is known only from its unique  signal (BWC) with no confirmed species identification. This beaked whale spans the Pacific Ocean from the Mariana Archipelago to Baja California, Mexico, south to the equator, but only as far north as latitude 29°N. Within these warm waters, 92% of BWC detections occurred at night, 6% during crepuscular periods, and only 2% during daylight hours. Detections of BWC signals on drifting recorders with a vertical hydrophone array at 150 m depth demonstrated that foraging often occurred shallow in the water column (<150 m). No other species of beaked whale to date has been documented foraging in waters this shallow. Given their nocturnal, shallow foraging dives, this species appears to prefer prey that may be available in the water column only during those hours. The foraging behavior of Cross Seamount beaked whales appears to be unique among all beaked whales, and these findings contribute additional ecological and acoustic information which can help guide future efforts to identify this cryptic whale.

McCullough JLK, Henderson EE, Trickey JS, Barlow J, Baumann-Pickering S, Manzano-Roth R, Alongi G, Martin S, Fregosi S, Mellinger DK, Klinck H, Szesciorka AR, Oleson EM. (2023). Geographic distribution of the Cross Seamount beaked whale based on acoustic detections. Marine Mammal Science, 1–20. https://doi.org/10.1111/mms.13061

Last updated by Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center on 08/14/2023