Oceanography and cetaceans of the Costa Rica Dome region
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Oceanography and cetaceans of the Costa Rica Dome region
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Oceanography and cetaceans of the Costa Rica Dome region
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    A seasonally predictable, strong, and shallow thermocline makes the Costa Rica Dome a distinct biological habitat where phytoplankton and zooplankton biomass are higher than in surrounding waters in the eastern tropical North Pacific. We constructed seasonal climatologies of oceanographic variables (sea surface temperature and salinity, mixed layer depth, thermocline depth and strength, a stratification index, surface winds and currents, and upwelling) from a composite of ocean reanalysis data sets, plus two primary production variables (surface chlorophyll and net primary productivity). The results confirm a previous study of the annual cycle based on shipboard oceanographic observations. Based on ten SWFSC cetacean and ecosystem surveys of the eastern tropical Pacific during 1986-2006, we estimated spatial distributions of the abundance commonly encountered cetaceans with generalized additive models that relate observed sightings to environmental variables. Among the 21 cetacean species and subspecies present in the Costa Rica Dome region, three show a clear association with the Dome and 14 have distributions that extend into the Dome. The Costa Rica Dome is a regional center of high productivity and likely supports high prey availability for cetacean predators both within the Dome and in surrounding waters. The coastal warm pool to the northwest of the Dome and the productive equatorial waters to the south are also important regional habitats for cetaceans. [doi:10.7289/V5/TM-SWFSC-590(http://doi.org/10.7289/V5/TM-SWFSC-590)]
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