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Abstract: Research on the navigational strategies of marine mammals often uses long-distance migratory data. However, these cost-intensive, long-term monitoring projects are often limited to small sample sizes. One alternative is to use non-migratory trips, where more animals can be tracked. Using shorter trips to investigate navigational hypotheses also allows for a finer-scale investigation of navigational movement, which can aid in exploring pilotage as a potential navigational strategy.
In this project, I explore the potential use of bathymetric landmarks as navigational landmarks by Northern Fur Seals (NFS) during pre-migratory foraging trips. I isolate transiting-type behavior during pre-migratory foraging trips using hidden Markov models, and then use potential functions – a technique traditionally used to model particle or planetary motion – to model the transiting movement of NFS during pre-migratory foraging trips. I then compare these potential functions to the bathymetry of the region.