New publications on underwater behavior of blue whales

The article below summarizing the underwater behavior of blue whales from suction-cup attached Crittercams was recently published:

Calambokidis, J., G.S. Schorr, G.H. Steiger, J. Francis, M. Bakhtiari, G. Marshall, E. Oleson, D. Gendron and K. Robertson. 2008. Insights into the underwater diving, feeding, and calling behavior of blue whales from a suction-cup attached video-imaging tag (CRITTERCAM). Marine Technology Society Journal 41(4):19-29.


We examined the underwater behavior of blue whales using a suction-cup-attached video-imaging

instrument (CRITTERCAM). We made 13 successful deployments (defined as tag

duration of >15 min and successful recovery of the tag and data) totaling 19 hours of

CRITTERCAMs on blue whales off California and in the Sea of Cortez from spring through fall

(26 February to 30 September) between 1999 and 2003 . Whale diving depth and behavior

varied widely by region and period, although deployments on different individuals in the

same area and period often showed very similar feeding behavior. One deployment extending

into night showed a diurnal shift in diving behavior with progressively shallower

feeding dives as it became dark, with shift to shallow, apparently non-feeding dives during

the night. Data and video from tags demonstrated that the characteristic series of vertical

movements blue whales make at depth are lunges into dense aggregations of krill. These

krill were visible streaming by the camera immediately before these lunges and more clearly

when the whales’ forward motion stopped as a result of the lunge. The progression of events

leading up to and during the lunge could be documented from the head movement of whales

and occasional views of the expanding throat pleats or lower jaw, and by changes in flow

noise past the tag, indicating a rapid deceleration. One set of deployments in the Southern

California Bight revealed consistent feeding at depths of 250-300 m, deeper than has been

previously reported for blue whales. A loud blue whale vocalization was heard on only one 

deployment on a male blue whale in an interacting trio of animals.

Link to full PDF in Marine Technology Society Journal*

*The article is for personal use only, and is not to be distributed in any format. The Marine Technology Society is a not-for-profit, international, professional association.  Founded in 1963, the Society believes that the advancement of marine technology and the productive, sustainable use of the oceans depend upon the active exchange of ideas between government, industry and academia. See