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Seattle, WA, United States

Field J.C.,SWFSC NMFS NOAA | Elliger C.,Stanford University | Baltz K.,SWFSC NMFS NOAA | Gillespie G.E.,Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans | And 6 more authors.
Deep-Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography

From 2002 to 2010, the jumbo squid (Dosidicus gigas) has been regularly encountered in large numbers throughout the California Current System (CCS). This species, usually found in subtropical waters, could affect coastal pelagic ecosystems and fisheries as both predator and prey. Neither the abundance of jumbo squid nor the optimal ocean conditions in which they flourish are well known. To understand better the potential impacts of this species on both commercial fisheries and on food-web structure we collected nearly 900 specimens from waters of the CCS, covering over 20° of latitude, over a range of depths and seasons. We used demographic information (size, sex, and maturity state) and analyzed stomach contents using morphological and molecular methods to best understand the foraging ecology of this species in different habitats of the CCS. Squid were found to consume a broad array of prey. Prey in offshore waters generally reflected the forage base reported in previous studies (mainly mesopelagic fishes and squids), whereas in more coastal waters (shelf, shelf break and slope habitats) squid foraged on a much broader mix that included substantial numbers of coastal pelagic fishes (Pacific herring and northern anchovy, as well as osmerids and salmonids in northern waters) and groundfish (Pacific hake, several species of rockfish and flatfish). We propose a seasonal movement pattern, based on size and maturity distributions along with qualitative patterns of presence or absence, and discuss the relevance of both the movement and distribution of jumbo squid over space and time. We find that jumbo squid are a generalist predator, which feeds primarily on small, pelagic or mesopelagic micronekton but also on larger fishes when they are available. We also conclude that interactions with and potential impacts on ecosystems likely vary over space and time, in response to both seasonal movement patterns and highly variable year-to-year abundance of the squid themselves. © 2012. Source

Felix F.,Museo de Ballenas | Castro C.,Pacific Whale Foundation | Laake J.L.,National Marine Mammal Laboratory | Haase B.E.N.,Museo de Ballenas | Scheidat M.,University of Kiel
Journal of Cetacean Research and Management

Southeastern Pacific humpback whales (Breeding Stock G) breed along the northwestern coast of South America and farther north up to Costa Rica. Photo-identification surveys conducted aboard whalewatching vessels during the migration/breeding season from June to September between 1991 and 2006 off the coast of Ecuador (2 °S, 81 °W) have produced a database of 1,511 individual whales. Comparisons of photographs produced 190 between-year re-sightings of 155 individual whales. Closed and open capture-recapture models were used to estimate abundance and survival. The best estimate of abundance in 2006 with the Chapman modified-Petersen was 6,504 (95% CI: 4,270-9,907; CV = 0.21). Abundance estimates from open population models were considerably lower due to heterogeneity in capture probability which produced a 'transient' effect. Our best estimate of true survival was 0.919 (95% CI: 0.850-0.958). Heterogeneity most likely occurred from inter-annual variation in sampling and unknown structure and variation in the migration timing and corridor. A more extensive collaborative effort including other wintering areas further north as well as integrating breeding-feeding data will help to reduce heterogeneity and increase precision in abundance and survival estimates. Source

Musser W.B.,University of San Diego | Bowles A.E.,Hubbs SeaWorld Research Institute | Grebner D.M.,Bioacoustician | Crance J.L.,National Marine Mammal Laboratory
Journal of the Acoustical Society of America

Limited previous evidence suggests that killer whales (Orcinus orca) are capable of vocal production learning. However, vocal contextual learning has not been studied, nor the factors promoting learning. Vocalizations were collected from three killer whales with a history of exposure to bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) and compared with data from seven killer whales held with conspecifics and nine bottlenose dolphins. The three whales' repertoires were distinguishable by a higher proportion of click trains and whistles. Time-domain features of click trains were intermediate between those of whales held with conspecifics and dolphins. These differences provided evidence for contextual learning. One killer whale spontaneously learned to produce artificial chirps taught to dolphins; acoustic features fell within the range of inter-individual differences among the dolphins. This whale also produced whistles similar to a stereotyped whistle produced by one dolphin. Thus, results provide further support for vocal production learning and show that killer whales are capable of contextual learning. That killer whales produce similar repertoires when associated with another species suggests substantial vocal plasticity and motivation for vocal conformity with social associates. © 2014 Acoustical Society of America. Source

Bowles A.E.,Hubbs SeaWorld Research Institute | Grebner D.M.,Bioacoustician | Musser W.B.,University of San Diego | Nash J.S.,University of San Diego | Crance J.L.,National Marine Mammal Laboratory
Journal of the Acoustical Society of America

Stereotyped pulsed calls were attributed to 11 killer whales (Orcinus orca) with and without synchronous bubble streams in three datasets collected from two facilities from 1993 to 2012. Calls with and without synchronous bubble streams and divergent overlapping high frequency components ("biphonic" vs "monophonic") were compared. Subjects produced bubbles significantly more often when calls had divergent high frequency components. However, acoustic features in one biphonic call shared by five subjects provided little evidence for an acoustic effect of synchronous bubble flow. Disproportionate bubbling supported other evidence that biphonic calls form a distinct category, but suggested a function in short-range communication. © 2015 Acoustical Society of America. Source

Bergfelt D.R.,U.S. Environmental Protection Agency | Steinetz B.G.,New York University | Dunn J.L.,Mystic Aquarium and Institute for Exploration | Atkinson S.,University of Alaska Fairbanks | And 3 more authors.
General and Comparative Endocrinology

The primary objectives of this study were to validate a canine relaxin RIA for use in otariids and phocids and consider practical applications. For 6 captive Northern fur seal females, serum samples were grouped and examined according to pregnancy (n = 13), post-partum (n = 8) and non-pregnancy (n = 6), and, for 2 captive Northern fur seal males, serum samples were grouped and examined together regardless of age (2 mo-15 yrs, n = 6). Placental tissue was available for examination from one Northern fur seal, Steller sea lion and harbor seal. The validation process involved several steps using an acid-acetone extraction process to isolate a relaxin-containing fraction in pools of serum from each group of fur seals and placental tissue from each seal species. A relaxin-like substance was detected in extracts of pregnant, non-pregnant and male serum and placental tissue in a dose-responsive manner as increasing volumes of respective extracts or amounts of canine relaxin were introduced into the assay. In raw serum samples, mean immuno-reactive relaxin concentrations were higher (P < 0.05) during pregnancy than post-partum and non-pregnancy, and lower (P < 0.05) in male than female fur seals. During pregnancy, mean serum concentrations of relaxin progressively increased (P < 0.05) over Months 4-10 and, in serial samples collected from the same fur seals before and after parturition, mean concentrations were higher (P < 0.06) pre-partum than post-partum. In conclusion, validation of a homologous canine relaxin RIA for use in otariids and phocids resulted in the discovery of a relaxin-like substance in extracted and raw serum and placental tissue from Northern fur seals, a Steller sea lion and harbor seal. Distinctly higher immuno-reactive concentrations during pregnancy indicated the potential for relaxin to serve as a hormonal marker to differentiate between pregnant and non-pregnant or pseudopregnant pinnipeds. Source

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