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Marbled Murrelets (Brachyramphus marmoratus) foraging with gray whales (Eschrichtius robustus) off Vancouver Island, British Columbia

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Seabirds are known to associate with marine mammals to facilitate prey capture. These occur when mammals either force prey near the surface or provide small scraps of larger prey victims. Gray whales (Eschrichtius robustus (Lilljeborg, 1861)) have been observed to provide invertebrate prey to a variety of seabird species; however, there are no published reports of Marbled Murrelets (Brachyramphus marmoratus (Gmelin, 1789)) feeding in association with gray whales. We observed Marbled Murrelets foraging within several metres of gray whales off Vancouver Island, British Columbia, feeding on epibenthic zooplankton in 2006 and 2008. Join-count statistics identified significant clustering (p = 0.1) of 258 Marbled Murrelets within 300 m of 39 feeding gray whales in June of 2006, and no association between 3 gray whales and 34 Marbled Murrelets in June and July of 2008, marking a foraging association conditional on the abundance of both gray whales and their prey, but potentially significant to Marbled Murrelet survival and fecundity.

Keywords: Brachyramphus marmoratus; Eschrichtius robustus; Marbled Murrelet; association d’alimentation; baleine grise; feeding association; gray whale; guillemot marbré; join-count statistic; statistique de jointure compte

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Whale Research Lab, Department of Geography, University of Victoria, P.O. Box 3050, Station CSC, Victoria, BC V8W 3P5, Canada. 2: Department of Geography, Brandon University, Fourth Floor, John R. Brodie, Science Centre, 270 - 18th Street, Brandon, MB R7A 6A9, Canada.

Publication date: 2013-01-01

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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