Journal Article

Distribution, encounter rates, and habitat characteristics of toothed cetaceans in the Bay of Biscay and adjacent waters from platform-of-opportunity data

Jeremy Kiszka, Kelly Macleod, Olivier Van Canneyt, Dylan Walker and Vincent Ridoux

in ICES Journal of Marine Science

Published on behalf of ICES/CIEM

Volume 64, issue 5, pages 1033-1043
Published in print July 2007 | ISSN: 1054-3139
Published online June 2007 | e-ISSN: 1095-9289 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/icesjms/fsm067
Distribution, encounter rates, and habitat characteristics of toothed cetaceans in the Bay of Biscay and adjacent waters from platform-of-opportunity data

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Kiszka, J., Macleod, K., Van Canneyt, O., Walker, D. and Ridoux, V. 2007. Distribution, encounter rates, and habitat characteristics of toothed cetaceans in the Bay of Biscay and adjacent waters from platform-of-opportunity data. – ICES Journal of Marine Science, 64: 1033–1043.

Data on the distribution and habitat utilization of oceanic marine mammals are difficult to collect and yet such information is beneficial for many conservation and management purposes. Data collected during ferry-based cetacean surveys in the English Channel and Bay of Biscay between 1998 and 2002 were analysed to investigate the distribution, encounter rate, and habitat characteristics of toothed cetaceans there. In all, 17 873 nautical miles were surveyed, and 1008 encounters of 13 identified species, including delphinids, ziphiids, harbour porpoise, and sperm whale, were recorded. The common dolphin was the commonest species, followed in decreasing occurrence by striped and bottlenose dolphins, pilot whale, harbour porpoise, Cuvier's beaked whale, and sperm whales. The distribution of harbour porpoises was restricted to the shallow waters of the western English Channel. Common and bottlenose dolphins were distributed mainly over the continental shelf, although there were some encounters along the shelf edge and in the open ocean. Striped dolphins and pilot whales were sighted in oceanic waters in the central and southern Bay of Biscay. Cuvier's beaked whales and sperm whales were recorded in the deep oceanic waters of the southern Bay of Biscay. Bathymetry clearly plays a significant role in the distribution and habitat partitioning of toothed cetaceans in the region.

Keywords: bathymetric preference; Bay of Biscay; distribution; encounter rate; English Channel; habitat characteristics; platforms of opportunity; toothed cetaceans

Journal Article.  6153 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Environmental Science ; Marine and Estuarine Biology

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