Assessing the energetic consequences of disturbance on a marine top predator

  • State
  • Name
    Mariana Silva
  • Entity host
    Instituto de Investigação em Ciências do Mar – OKEANOS
  • University awarding the degree
    University of the Azores


The main goal of the study is to understand how natural and human-induced disturbances
impact the energetic requirements of vulnerable sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) inhabiting

the Azores archipelago, and to identify threshold conditions at which disturbance may negatively impact the species. Specifically, the project is aimed to first develop a bioenergetic model to estimate energy acquisition and expenditure, as well as the minimum foraging success rate of sperm whales, based on their theoretical energetic requirements. Then to use the model to simulate two prey structure change scenarios and understand whale’s vulnerability to such environmental changes. Finally, to characterize the spatio-temporal extent of cumulative whale watching exposure and quantify how this exposure effects the energy acquisition of sperm whales under different scenarios of ww intensity.