Sperm whales satellite tracking in Mauritius
The Maubydick project has been conducted in the waters of Mauritius from 2014 to 2018. This project coordinated by the Mauritian NGO, Marine Megafauna Conservation Organisation (MMCO) aims to better understand the movements of the Sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) and their diving behaviors through the deployment of 22 satellites tags during 3 missions of 15 days. The MMCO technical and scientific partners for the Maubydick project are the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources (Prof. Mads Peter Heide-Jørgensen, Denmark), Mikkel Villum Jensen, expert in satellite tags design and deployment on cetaceans, MEGAPTERA, the Dolswim company, Longitude 181 and Label Bleu. EXAGONE Réseau TERIA has provided the main funding.
This study aims at (a) investigating the seasonal movements, (b) predicting the potential distribution and (c) assessing the diel vertical distribution of the Sperm Whale in the Mascarene Archipelago.
Using 21 satellites tracks and eight environmental predictors, 14 supervised machine-learning algorithms were tested and compare to predict the sperm whales’ potential distribution during the wet and dry season in the waters of Mauritius.
You can find all the results and analysis about this study in the following scientific article:
Chambault P, Fossette S, Heide-Jorgensen MP, Jouannet D, Vély M. Predicting seasonal movements and distribution of the Sperm whale using machine learning algorithms. Ecol Evol. 2021 ; 11 ; 1432-1445. https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.7154
We want to express our gratitude to Mikkel Villum Jensen who for two decades has pioneered techniques for tagging and tracking of baleen whales. Even though he can no longer be with us in the field, we will retain the memory of his fun and valuable company out on the boats.
Contributor: Michel Vely