CSIRO Publishing blank image blank image blank image blank imageBooksblank image blank image blank image blank imageJournalsblank image blank image blank image blank imageAbout Usblank image blank image blank image blank imageShopping Cartblank image blank image blank image You are here: Journals > Wildlife Research   
Wildlife Research
Journal Banner
  Ecology, management and conservation in natural and modified habitats
blank image Search
blank image blank image
blank image
  Advanced Search

Journal Home
About the Journal
Editorial Structure
Current Issue
Just Accepted
All Issues
Special Issues
Sample Issue
For Authors
General Information
Submit Article
Author Instructions
Open Access
For Referees
Referee Guidelines
Review an Article
Annual Referee Index
For Subscribers
Subscription Prices
Customer Service
Print Publication Dates
Library Recommendation

blue arrow e-Alerts
blank image
Subscribe to our Email Alert or RSS feeds for the latest journal papers.

red arrow Connect with us
blank image
facebook twitter logo LinkedIn


Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 39(6)

Satellite tracking of long-finned pilot whales (Globicephala melas) following stranding and release in Tasmania, Australia

Rosemary Gales A, Rachael Alderman A B, Sam Thalmann A and Kris Carlyon A

A Resource Management and Conservation Division, Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment, GPO Box 44, Hobart, Tas. 7001, Australia.
B Corresponding author. Email: rachael.alderman@dpipwe.tas.gov.au

Wildlife Research 39(6) 520-531 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/WR12023
Submitted: 6 February 2012  Accepted: 28 May 2012   Published: 25 June 2012

PDF (713 KB) $25
 Export Citation

Context: Mass strandings of cetaceans occur frequently in Tasmania, Australia, with efforts made by authorities to rescue stranded animals when possible. Determining the fate of rescued cetaceans following a stranding event is essential to assess individual survival and the effectiveness of rescue procedures; however, few studies have monitored animals post-release and their fate remains largely unknown. Satellite telemetry of released cetaceans provides a means of assessing the short- to medium-term success of stranding management techniques.

Aims: To examine the short- to medium-term survival and at-sea movement and behaviour of long-finned pilot whales (Globicephala melas) on their release following a mass-stranding event.

Methods: We deployed satellite transmitters on 5 of 11 long-finned pilot whales returned to sea after a mass-stranding event in Tasmania in November 2008. The transmitters, incorporating a corrosive link, were attached to the dorsal fin of two adult and three subadult whales before release. The resulting telemetry data were examined to infer behaviour of the tagged individuals post-release, including swim speeds and how individuals moved in relation to each other over time.

Key results: Tracking data established the success of the rescue attempt and confirmed survival of stranded individuals in the short term (12–32 days) following release. Although conditions required whales to be released individually, data showed the tracked whales re-united immediately after release. A subsequent aerial survey revealed that they had formed a larger group with six additional whales which then separated and reformed.

Conclusions: Short-term survival of long-finned pilot whales following mass stranding and rescue was confirmed and behaviour was consistent with known behavioural information for this species. Importantly, the present study demonstrated physical recovery from a traumatic event in spite of delayed rescue and that individuals successfully re-united following individual release.

Implications: The present study confirmed that the rescue procedures employed were successful in the management and release of mass-stranded long-finned pilot whales, at least in the short term. It also provided some insight into the at-sea behaviour of this highly social and gregarious species and supported the theory behind stranding management techniques and the considerable resources and effort required for rescue of stranded cetaceans.

Additional keywords: post-stranding survival, satellite telemetry, whale stranding.


Aguilar de Soto, N., Johnson, M. P., Madsen, P. T., Diaz, F., Dominguez, I., Brito, A., and Tyack, P. (2008). Cheetahs of the deep sea: deep foraging sprints in short-finned pilot whales off Tenerife (Canary Island). Journal of Animal Ecology 77, 936–947.
CrossRef |

Aljanabi, S. M., and Martinez, I. (1997). Universal and rapid salt-extraction of high quality genomic DNA for PCR-based techniques. Nucleic Acids Research 25, 4692–4693.
CrossRef | CAS |

Andrews, R. D., Pitman, R. L., and Ballance, L. T. (2008). Satellite tracking reveals distinct movement patterns for Type B and Type C killer whales in the southern Ross Sea, Antarctica. Polar Biology 31, 1461–1468.
CrossRef |

Bailey, H., Shillinger, G., Palacios, D., Bograd, S., Spotila, J., Paladino, F., and Block, B. A. (2008). Identifying and comparing phases of movement by leatherback turtles using state-space models. Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 356, 128–135.
CrossRef |

Baird, R. W., Schorr, G. S., Webster, D. L., McSweeney, D. J., Hanson, M. B., and Andrews, R. D. (2010). Movements and habitat use of satellite-tagged false killer whales around the main Hawaiian Islands. Endangered Species Research 10, 107–121.
CrossRef |

Baird, R. W., Schorr, G. S., Webster, D. L., McSweeney, D. J., Hanson, M. B., and Andrews, R. D. (2011). Movements of two satellite-tagged pygmy killer whales (Feresa attenuata) off the island of Hawai’i. Marine Mammal Science 27, E332–E337.
CrossRef |

Balmer, B. C., Wells, R. S., Scwacke, L. H., Rowles, T. K., Hunter, C., Zolman, E. S., Townsend, F. I., Danielson, B., Westgate, A. J., McLellan, W. A., and Pabst, D. A. (2011). Evaluation of a single-pin, satellite-linked transmitter deployed on bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) along the coast of Georgia, USA. Aquatic Mammals 37, 187–192.
CrossRef |

Bannister, J. L., Kemper, C. M., and Warneke, R. M. (1996). The action plan for Australian cetaceans. Australian Nature Conservation Agency, Canberra.

Basslink Joint Advisory Panel (2002). Final panel report: Basslink – Proposed interconnector linking the Tasmanian and Victorian electricity grids, Hobart, Tasmania. Available at http://www.planning.tas.gov.au/library_and_information/ [verified January 2009].

Bloch, D., and Lastein, L. (1993). Morphometric segregation of long-finned pilot whales in eastern and western North-Atlantic. Ophelia 38, 55–68.
CrossRef |

Bloch, D., Heide-Jorgensen, M. P., Stefansson, E., Mikkelsen, B., Ofstad, L. H., Dietz, R., and Andersen, L. W. (2003). Short-term movements of long-finned pilot whales Globicephala melas around the Faroe Islands. Wildlife Biology 9, 47–58.

Corkeron, P. J., and Martin, A. R. (2004). Ranging and diving behaviour of two ‘offshore’ bottlenose dolphins, Tursiops sp., off eastern Australia. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 84, 465–468.
CrossRef |

de Stephanis, R., Verborgh, P., Perez, S., Esteban, R., Minvielle-Sebastia, L., and Guinet, C. (2008). Long-term social structure of long-finned pilot whales (Globicephala melas) in the Strait of Gibraltar. Acta Ethologica 11, 81–94.
CrossRef |

Elwen, S., Meyer, M. A., Best, P. B., Kotze, P. G. H., Thornton, M., and Swanson, S. (2006). Range and movements of female heaviside’s dolphins (Cephalorhynchus heavisidii), as determined by satellite-linked telemetry. Journal of Mammalogy 87, 866–877.
CrossRef |

Evans, K., Thresher, R., Warnecke, R. M., Bradshaw, C. J. A., Pook, M., Thiele, D., and Hindell, M. A. (2005). Periodic variability in cetacean strandings: links to large-scale climate events. Biology Letters 1, 147–150.
CrossRef | CAS |

Freitas, C., Lydersen, C., Fedak, M. A., and Kovacs, K. M. (2008). A simple new algorithm to filter marine mammal Argos locations. Marine Mammal Science 24, 315–325.
CrossRef |

Gales, N., Woods, R., and Vogelnes, L. (2008). Marine mammal strandings and the role of the veterinarian. In ‘Medicine of Australian Mammals’. (Eds L. Vogelnes and R. Woods.) pp. 39–54. (CSIRO Publishing: Melbourne.)

Geraci, J., and Lounsbury, V. J. (2005). ‘Marine Mammals Ashore: A Field Guide for Standings.’ 2nd edn. (National Aquarium in Baltimore: Baltimore, MD.)

Hauser, N., Zerbini, A. N., Geyer, Y., Heide-Jorgensen, M. P., and Clapham, P. (2010). Movements of satellite-monitored humpback whales, Megaptera novaeangliae, from the Cook Islands. Marine Mammal Science 26, 679–685.

Hays, G. C., Akesson, S., Godley, B. J., Luschi, P., and Santidrian, P. (2001). The implications of location accuracy for the interpretation of satellite tracking data. Animal Behaviour 61, 1035–1040.
CrossRef |

Hays, G. C., Bradshaw, C. J. A., James, M. C., Lovell, P., and Sims, D. W. (2007). Why do Argos satellite tags deployed on marine animals stop transmitting? Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 349, 52–60.
CrossRef |

Heide-Jorgensen, M. P., Bloch, D., Stefansson, E., Mikkelsen, B., Ofstad, L. H., and Dietz, R. (2002). Diving behaviour of long-finned pilot whales Globicephala melas around the Faroe Islands. Wildlife Biology 8, 307–313.

Jefferson, T. A., Webber, M. A., and Pitman, R. L. (2008). ‘Marine Mammals of the World: a Comprehensive Guide to their Identification.’ (Academic Press: London.)

Jonsen, I. D., Mills Flemming, J., and Myers, R. A. (2005). Robust state-space modelling of animal movement data. Ecology 86, 2874–2880.
CrossRef |

Jonsen, I. D., Myers, R. A., and James, M. C. (2006). Robust hierarchical state-space models reveal diel variation in travel rates of migrating leatherback turtles. Journal of Animal Ecology 75, 1046–1057.
CrossRef |

Magnusson, A. (2011). gmt: interface between GMT map-making software and R. R package version 1.1-9. Available at http://CRAN.R-project.org/package=gmt [verified 20 June 2012].

Mate, B. R. (1989). Satellite-monitoring radio tracking as a methodology for studying cetacean movements and behaviour. Report of the International Whaling Commission 39, 389–391.

Mate, B. R., Lagerquist, B. A., Winsor, M., Geraci, J., and Prescott, J. H. (2005). Movements and dive habits of a satellite-monitored longfinned pilot whale (Globicephala melas) in the northwest Atlantic. Marine Mammal Science 21, 136–144.
CrossRef |

Mate, B. R., Best, P. B., Lagerquist, B. A., and Winsor, M. (2011). Coastal, offshore, and migratory movements of South African right whales revealed by satellite telemetry. Marine Mammal Science 27, 455–476.
CrossRef |

Morin, P. A., Nestler, A., Rubio-Cisneros, N. T., Robertson, K. M., and Mesnick, S. L. (2005). Interfamilial characterization of a region of the ZFX and ZFY genes facilitates sex determination in cetaceans and other mammals. Molecular Ecology 14, 3275–3286.
CrossRef | CAS |

Nawojchik, R., St Aubin, D. J., and Johnson, A. (2003). Movements and dive behavior of two stranded, rehabilitated long-finned pilot whales (Globicephala melas) in the northwest Atlantic. Marine Mammal Science 19, 232–239.
CrossRef |

Oremus, M., Gales, R., Dalebout, M. L., Funahashi, N., Endo, T., Kage, T., Steel, D., and Baker, C. S. (2009). Worldwide mitochondrial DNA diversity and phylogeography of pilot whales (Globicephala spp.). Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. Linnean Society of London 98, 729–744.
CrossRef |

Ottensmeyer, C. A., and Whitehead, H. (2003). Behavioural evidence for social units in long-finned pilot whales. Canadian Journal of Zoology–Revue Canadienne De Zoologie 81, 1327–1338.
CrossRef |

Schorr, G. S., Baird, R. W., Hanson, M. B., Webster, D. L., McSweeney, D. J., and Andrews, R. D. (2009). Movements of satellite-tagged Blainsville’s beaked whales off the island of Hawai’i. Endangered Species Research 10, 203–213.
CrossRef |

Sumner, M. D. (2011). trip: spatial analysis of animal track data. R package version 1.1-10. Available at http://CRAN.R-project.org/package=trip [verified 20 June 2012].

Sveegaard, S., Teilmann, J., Tougaard, J., Dietz, R., Mouritsen, K. N., Desportes, G., and Siebert, U. (2011). High-density areas for harbor porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) identified by satellite tracking. Marine Mammal Science 27, 230–246.
CrossRef |

Thomas, J. A., and Kastelein, R. A. (Eds) (1990). ‘Sensory Abilities of Cetaceans: Laboratory and Field Evidence.’ (Plenum Press: New York.)

Weimerskirch, H., Pinaud, D., Pawlowski, F., and Bost, C. A. (2007). Does prey capture induce area-restricted search? A fine-scale study using GPS in a marine predator, the wandering albatross. American Naturalist 170, 734–743.
CrossRef |

Worzyk, T. (2009) ‘Submarine Power Cables: Design, Installation, Repair and Environmental Aspects.’ (Springer: New York.)

Subscriber Login

Legal & Privacy | Contact Us | Help


© CSIRO 1996-2016