Confusion Reigns? A Review of Marine Megafauna Interactions with Tidal-Stream Environments

Steven Benjamins*, Andrew C. Dale, Gordon Hastie, James J Waggitt, Mary-Anne Lea, Beth Scott, Ben Wilson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

42 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Energetic tidal-stream environments are characterized by frequent, variable, yet broadly predictable currents containing ephemeral flow structures that change across multiple spatio-temporal scales. Marine mammals and seabirds (marine megafauna) often frequent such sites, but increasingly these locations are targeted for renewable energy extraction; little is known, however, about how marine megafauna use these habitats and any potential impacts. This review aims to summarize existing knowledge concerning usage by marine megafauna and considers their wider ecological significance. The review describes the physical processes occurring within tidal-stream environments that generate the oceanographic structures of potential ecological relevance, such as jets, boils, eddies, and fronts. Important physical features of these environments include lateral transport, turbulence-driven 3-dimensional flow structure at various spatial scales, and upwelling. Foraging opportunities appear to be the main attractor to marine megafauna, likely driven by enhanced prey abundance, vulnerability, or diversity. Many megafauna associate with particular tidal phases, current strengths, and flow structures, most likely in response to tidally forced prey distribution and behaviours. Occupancy patterns, distributions, and foraging behaviours are discussed. Local site fidelity by 'tidal-stream experts' suggest non-uniform conservation risks within larger metapopulations. The review discusses data-gathering techniques and associated challenges, the significance of scaling, and information gaps.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOceanography and Marine Biology
Subtitle of host publicationAn Annual Rview
EditorsRN Hughes, DJ Hughes, IP Smith, AC Dale
PublisherCRC Press
Pages1-54
Number of pages54
Volume53
ISBN (Print)978-1-4987-0545-5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Publication series

NameOceanography and Marine Biology
PublisherCRC PRESS-TAYLOR & FRANCIS GROUP
Volume53
ISSN (Print)0078-3218

Keywords

  • BOTTLE-NOSED DOLPHINS
  • PORPOISES PHOCOENA-PHOCOENA
  • WHALES DELPHINAPTERUS-LEUCAS
  • SEALS PHOCA-VITULINA
  • SAN-JUAN ISLANDS
  • PENGUINS SPHENISCUS MAGELLANICUS
  • SHAGS PHALACROCORAX-ARISTOTELIS
  • GUILLEMOTS CEPPHUS-GRYLLE
  • NORTHERN FUR SEALS
  • HARBOR PORPOISES

Cite this

Benjamins, S., Dale, A. C., Hastie, G., Waggitt, J. J., Lea, M-A., Scott, B., & Wilson, B. (2015). Confusion Reigns? A Review of Marine Megafauna Interactions with Tidal-Stream Environments. In RN. Hughes, DJ. Hughes, IP. Smith, & AC. Dale (Eds.), Oceanography and Marine Biology : An Annual Rview (Vol. 53, pp. 1-54). (Oceanography and Marine Biology; Vol. 53). CRC Press. https://doi.org/10.1201/b18733-2