Noémie Freymond

Research interests

The influence of buoyancy on the resting behaviour of sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus)

Sperm whales have been shown to rest by drifting just below the surface in a unique stereotypical vertical position [1]. This position is thought to support resting and sleep by buffering the whale from surface wave action. While resting, sperm whales release bubbles, which has been hypothesised to help them achieve neutral buoyancy to maintain their position [2]. In order to test this hypothesis, I am working at the Scottish Oceans Institute of St Andrews, where I am conducting a simulation, which uses biologging data and integrates the different physical forces acting on the whale. The data was collected as part of 3S projects (Sea Mammals and Sonar Safety projects), which took place in Norway and where sperm whales were tagged using suction-cup tagsThis master thesis is supervised by Prof. Klaus Zuberbühler (University of Neuchâtel) and Prof. Patrick Miller (University of St Andrews).



© Stephane Granzotto


[1] Miller, P. J. O., Aoki, K., Rendell, L. E. and Amano, M. (2008). Stereotypical resting behaviour of the sperm whale. Curr. Biol. 18, 21-23. doi:10.1016/j.cub. 2007.11.003 

[2] Miller, P. J. O., Johnson, M. P., Tyack, P. L. and Terray, E. A. (2004). Swimming gaits, passive drag and buoyancy of diving sperm whales Physeter macrocephalus. J. Exp. Biol. 6, 1953-1967. doi:10.1242/jeb.00993