Diving behaviour of long-finned pilot whales Globicephala melas around the Faroe Islands

M.P. Heide-Jørgensen, D. Bloch, E. Stefansson, B. Mikkelsen, L.H. Ofstad, R. Dietz

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Three long-finned pilot whales Globicephala melas were equipped with satellite-linked time-depth recorders on the Faroe Islands on 15 July 2000. The purpose was to study the diving behaviour and habitat use of free-ranging pilot whales
in the northeast Atlantic. Summarised data on the diving behaviour of the
whales were collected for up to 129 6-hour periods. The maximum depth of dives
was 828 m and the mean number of dives below 12 m was 12.2/hour (SD = 8.2).
On average, the whales spent 60% of their time above 7 m depth. All three whales
had significantly longer surface times when they were outside the continental
shelf than when they were on the shelf. The mean vertical speeds ranged from
0.9 m/second for dives to 150 m to 2.3 m/second for dives to 600 m. No dives
below 12 m lasted longer than 18 minutes, and more than 60% of dives lasted
less than three minutes. The mean number of dives that lasted less than one minute
was significantly higher in offshore areas than on the continental slope for all
three whales. Compared to other odontocetes of similar size, long-finned pilot
whales apparendy either have a lower dive capacity or utilise a niche in the water
column that requires less diving activity.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)307-313
Number of pages7
JournalWildlife Biology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • diving behaviour
  • Faroe Islands
  • Globicephala melas
  • pilot whale
  • satellite tracking

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