Gouge marks on deep-sea mud volcanoes in the eastern Mediterranean: caused by Cuvier's beaked whales?

J M Woodside, L David, A Frantzis, Sascha Kate Hooker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Enigmatic seafloor gouge marks at depths of 1700-2100m have been observed from submersible during geological survey work studying mud volcanoes in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. The marks consist of a central groove (about 10 cm deep and 1-2m long), superimposed on a broader bowl-shaped depression (1-2m long by about 50cm wide) with raised rims (up to 10cm high) to either side of the central groove. We discuss the potential biological causes of these marks, and conclude that they are probably created by Cuvier's beaked whales (Ziphius cavirostris) during foraging dives to these depths. The mud volcanoes have a comparatively rich and diverse benthic ecology associated with methane-rich fluid seeps and thus could be the base of food chains that reach top predators like the deep-diving whales. The characteristic high acoustic backscatter of the mud volcanoes would facilitate their detection by the echolocation system of these whales. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1762-1771
Number of pages10
JournalDeep Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers
Volume53
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2006

Keywords

  • seafloor seeps and mud volcanoes
  • marine mammals
  • deep water
  • foraging behaviour
  • marine geology
  • eastern Mediterranean
  • (33-36 degrees N; 24-31 degrees E)
  • GRAY WHALE
  • ZIPHIUS-CAVIROSTRIS
  • DIVING BEHAVIOR
  • SIDESCAN SONAR
  • PHYSETER-MACROCEPHALUS
  • SPERM-WHALES
  • METHANE
  • ISLAND
  • RIDGE
  • CONSORTIUM

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