A map showing movements and dive behavior of a short-finned pilot whale off the island of Hawai‘i tagged with a LIMPET dive/location tag. Download a copy of a poster presentation on this work here
A short-finned pilot whale moving rapidly at the surface. Photo by Robin W. Baird
In our sample of over 1,500 sightings of odontocetes in Hawaiian waters since 2000, short-finned pilot whales are the most frequently encountered species, representing almost 25% of all odontocete sightings. We have been studying various aspects of the behavior and ecology of short-finned pilot whales in Hawai‘i, photo-identifying individuals in every group encountered (collecting over 70,000 photos), collecting biopsy samples being used for stock structure, pollutant, and trophic ecology studies (over 170 samples), and studying their diving behavior and movement patterns.
Female and newborn short-finned pilot whale, July 13, 2008. Photo by Daniel Webster. This newborn is probably less than 12 hours old, since the dorsal fin is just starting to straighten. Sabre Mahaffy of Cascadia recently completed her Masters degree at Portland State University examining social organization of pilot whales in Hawai‘i based on association data of photo-identified individuals. Our catalog includes over 900 distinctive individuals from the main Hawaiian Islands photo-identified between 2003 and 2011.
Short-finned pilot whale with healed scar on head, July 13, 2008. Photo by Daniel Webster.
Spyhopping pilot whale with remoras, April 24, 2008. Photo by Robin Baird.
Spyhopping pilot whale with wound from cookie-cutter shark, April 25, 2008. Photo by Dan McSweeney.
Daniel Webster attempting to deploy suction-cup attached time-depth recorder/Fastloc GPS tag on a pilot whale. Photo by Robin Baird.
Pilot whale with time-depth recorder/Fastloc GPS tag, April 28. Photo by Greg Schorr.
Short-finned pilot whales off Kaua‘i, June 26, 2008. Photo by Annie Douglas
Greg Schorr collecting samples from an exhalation of a pilot whale, May 14, 2008. Photo by Robin Baird.
Short-finned pilot whale spyhopping, July 8, 2008. Photo by Daniel Webster.
Daniel Webster deploying a suction-cup attached Bioacoustic probe on a short-finned pilot whale, July 25, 2008. Photo by Robin Baird. This tag contains a hydrophone to record sounds around the whale as well as information on depth and underwater movements (using a 2-axis accelerometer). On July 25th we deployed two of these tags, with one remaining attached approximately four hours and the other remaining attached through the night. Both tags were recovered by researchers on the NOAA R/V Oscar Elton Sette.
We are also collaborating with Amy Van Cise, a Ph.D. student at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, on a study of pilot whale acoustics (see poster below) and genetics.
Adult male short-finned pilot whale with suction-cup attached Bioacoustic probe, July 25, 2008. Photo by Daniel Webster.
We've also been satellite tagging pilot whales to examine movements and habitat use. The map above shows 10 days of movements of an adult male tagged in May 2009. As of March 2011 we have satellite-derived movement data from 45 individuals totaling about 1,600 days of locations, including individuals tagged off Kaua‘i, O‘ahu and the island of Hawai‘i.
More photos and information on short-finned pilot whales encountered during our field projects can be found on our field project web pages
Below are a number of references on short-finned pilot whales
All photos are copyrighted and should not be used without permission.
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