Towards non-invasive heart rate monitoring in free-ranging cetaceans: a unipolar suction cup tag measured the heart rate of trained Risso's dolphins

Published on Aug 16, 2021in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B5.68
· DOI :10.1098/RSTB.2020.0225
Kagari Aoki12
Estimated H-index: 12
(UTokyo: University of Tokyo),
Yurie Watanabe1
Estimated H-index: 1
(Whale Museum)
+ 2 AuthorsKentaro Q. Sakamoto5
Estimated H-index: 5
(UTokyo: University of Tokyo)
Sources
Abstract
Heart rate monitoring in free-ranging cetaceans to understand their behavioural ecology and diving physiology is challenging. Here, we developed a simple, non-invasive method to monitor the heart rate of cetaceans in the field using an electrocardiogram-measuring device and a single suction cup equipped with an electrode. The unipolar suction cup was placed on the left lateral body surface behind the pectoral fin of Risso's dolphins (Grampus griseus) and a false killer whale (Pseudorca crassidens) in captivity; their heart rate was successfully monitored. We observed large heart rate oscillations corresponding to respiration in the motionless whales during surfacing (a false killer whale, mean 47 bpm, range 20-75 bpm; Risso's dolphins, mean ± s.d. 61 ± 15 bpm, range 28-120 bpm, n = 4 individuals), which was consistent with the sinus arrhythmia pattern (eupneic tachycardia and apneic bradycardia) observed in other cetaceans. Immediately after respiration, the heart rate rapidly increased to approximately twice that observed prior to the breath. Heart rate then gradually decreased at around 20-50 s and remained relatively constant until the next breath. Furthermore, we successfully monitored the heart rate of a free-swimming Risso's dolphin. The all-in-one suction cup device is feasible for field use without restraining animals and is helpful in further understanding the diving physiology of free-ranging cetaceans. This article is part of the theme issue 'Measuring physiology in free-living animals (Part II)'.
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