Behavioral context of echolocation and prey-handling sounds produced by killer whales (Orcinus orca) during pursuit and capture of Pacific salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.).

Wright, B.M., Deecke, Volker, Ellis, G.M., Trites, A.W. and Ford, J.K.B. (2021) Behavioral context of echolocation and prey-handling sounds produced by killer whales (Orcinus orca) during pursuit and capture of Pacific salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.). Marine Mammal Science . Item availability may be restricted.

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Abstract

Availability of preferred salmonid prey and a sufficiently quiet acoustic environment in which to forage are critical to the survival of resident killer whales (Orcinus orca) in the northeastern Pacific. Although piscivorous killer whales rely on echolocation to locate and track prey, the relationship between echolocation, movement, and prey capture during foraging by wild individuals is poorly understood. We used acoustic biologging tags to relate echolocation behavior to prey pursuit and capture during successful feeding dives by fish-eating killer whales in coastal British Columbia, Canada. The significantly higher incidence and rate of echolocation prior to fish captures compared to afterward confirms its importance in prey detection and tracking. Extremely rapid click sequences (buzzes) were produced before or concurrent with captures of salmon at depths typically exceeding 50 m, and were likely used by killer whales for close-range prey targeting, as in other odontocetes. Distinctive crunching and tearing sounds indicative of prey handling behavior occurred at relatively shallow depths following fish captures, matching concurrent observations that whales surfaced with fish prior to consumption and often shared prey. Buzzes and prey-handling sounds are potentially useful acoustic signals for estimating foraging efficiency and determining if resident killer whales are meeting their energetic requirements.

Item Type: Article
Journal / Publication Title: Marine Mammal Science
Publisher: Wiley
ISSN: 1748-7692
Departments: Departments > Science, Natural Resources and Outdoor Studies > Forestry and Conservation
Depositing User: Christian Stretton
Date Deposited: 04 May 2021 12:43
Last Modified: 05 Jul 2021 20:01
URI: https://insight.cumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/6068

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