alexa Cetacean habitats in the northern Gulf of Mexico
Geology & Earth Science

Geology & Earth Science

Journal of Oceanography and Marine Research

Author(s): Mark F Baumgartner, Keith D Mullin, L Nelson May, Thomas D Leming

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Surveys were conducted in the northern Gulf of Mexico during the spring seasons of 1992, 1993, and 1994 to determine the distribution, abundance, and habitat preferences of oceanic cetaceans. The distributions of bottle nose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), Risso’s dolphins (Grampus griseus), Kogia spp. (pygmy [Kogia breviceps] and dwarf sperm whales [Kogia sima]), pantropical spotted dolphins (Stenella attenuata), and sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) were examined with respect to depth, depth gradient, surface temperature, surface temperature variability, the depth of the 15°C isotherm, surface chlorophyll concentration, and epipelagic zooplankton biomass. Bottlenose dolphins were encountered in two distinct regions: the shallow continental shelf (0–150 m) and just seaward of the shelf break (200–750 m). Within both of these depth strata, bottlenose dolphins were sighted more frequently than expected in regions of high surface temperature variability which suggests an association with ocean fronts. Risso’s dolphins were encountered over the steeper sections of the upper continental slope (200–1000 m), whereas the Kogia spp. were sighted more frequently in waters of the upper continental slope that had high zooplankton biomass. The pantropical spotted dolphin and sperm whale were similarly distributed over the lower continental slope and deep Gulf (>1000 m), but sperm whales were generally absent from anticyclonic oceanographic features (e.g. the Loop Current, warm-core eddies) characterized by deep occurrences of the 15°C isotherm. Habitat partitioning, high-use areas, species accounts, environmental sampling limitations, and directions for future habitat work in the Gulf of Mexico are discussed

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This article was published in Fish Bull and referenced in Journal of Oceanography and Marine Research

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