Publication details.


Author(s):A. Sánchez-Román, L. Gómez-Navarro. , R. Fablet, D. Oro, E. Mason, J. M. Arcos, S. Ruiz, A. Pascual
Title:Rafting behaviour of seabirds as a proxy to describe surface ocean currents in the Balearic Sea
Journal:Scientific Reports
JCR Impact Factor:3.998
Issue No.:17775

Spatio-temporal variability of surface geostrophic mesoscale currents in the Balearic Sea (western Mediterranean) is characterized from satellite altimetry in combination with in-situ velocity measurements collected, among others, by drifting buoys, gliders and high-frequency radar. Here, we explore the use of tracking data from living organisms in the Balearic Sea as an alternative way to acquire in-situ velocity measurements. Specifically, we use GPS-tracks of resting Scopoli’s shearwatersCalonectris diomedea, that act as passive drifters, and compare them with satellite-derived velocity patterns. Results suggest that animal-borne GPS data can be used to identify rafting behaviour outside of the breeding colonies and, furthermore, as a proxy to describe local sea surface currents. Fourrafting patterns were identified according to the prevailing driving forces responsible for the observed trajectories. We find that 76% of the bird trajectories are associated with the combined effects of slippage and Ekman drift and/or surface drag; 59% are directly driven by the sea surface currents.Shearwaters are therefore likely to be passively transported by these driving forces while resting. Thetracks are generally consistent with the mesoscale features observed in satellite data and identifiedwith eddy-tracking software.

Related staff

  • Ananda Pascual Ascaso
  • Simón Ruiz Valero
  • Related departments

  • Oceanography and Global Change
  • Related projects

  • SEALEVEL CTA 138.2
  • Related research groups

  • Marine Technologies, Operational and Coastal Oceanography