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Comparing the humpback whale photo-id ... - CAR-SPAW-RAC

Comparing the humpback whale photo-id ... - CAR-SPAW-RAC

Comparing the humpback whale photo-id ... -

SC/56/SH16An updated comparison of the humpback whale photo-idcatalogues from the Antarctic Peninsula and the AbrolhosBank, Brazil.L. DALLA ROSA 1,2 , A. FREITAS 3 , E.R. SECCHI 1,4 , M.C.O. SANTOS 5 & M.H. ENGEL 31 Projeto Baleias/Brazilian Antarctic Program, Fundação Universidade Federal do Rio Grande, RioGrande, RS, Brazil2 Marine Mammal Research Unit, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada3 Projeto Baleia Jubarte/Instituto Baleia Jubarte, Caravelas, Bahia, Brazil4 University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand5 Instituto de Biociências, Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, SP, BrazilContact e-mail: dalla@zoology.ubc.caABSTRACTThe migratory route and feeding grounds of the humpback whale population from the Abrolhos Bank, Brazil, have notyet been determined. Previous comparisons of photographs from the Antarctic Peninsula and the Abrolhos Bank showedno matches. In this paper, we report an updated comparison between the two areas using a larger sample size. Wecompared fluke photographs of 375 individually identified whales from the Antarctic Peninsula (295 from Area I, and 80from Area II) with 983 whales from the Abrolhos Bank. The Antarctic photographs were collected by ProjetoBaleias/Brazilian Antarctic Program between 1997 and 2003, and the Abrolhos photographs were collected by ProjetoBaleia Jubarte/Instituto Baleia Jubarte between 1989 and 2000. No matches were observed between the catalogues,suggesting that the Brazilian humpback whales do not feed in the western and northwestern areas of the AntarcticPeninsula (Gerlache and Bransfield straits). The sample size for the Weddell Sea, however, is too small (n=15) to allowany conclusions as to whether the Brazilian humpbacks feed in this area or not. Ten new re-sightings of humpbackwhales in the Antarctic Peninsula, including an individual photographed in the Weddell Sea in two consecutive feedingseasons, are also reported.KEYWORDS: HUMPBACK WHALES, PHOTO-ID, BREEDING GROUNDS, FEEDING GROUNDS, MIGRATION,ANTARCTIC, ATLANTIC OCEAN, SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE.INTRODUCTIONHumpback whales, Megaptera novaeangliae, migrate seasonally from high latitude summer feedinggrounds to winter breeding and calving grounds in the tropics (e.g. Chittleborough, 1965; Dawbin, 1966).Seven humpback whale breeding populations and six IWC management areas are recognized for theSouthern Hemisphere (e.g. Donovan, 1991; IWC, 1998). The feeding destination of the humpback whalepopulation that winters in the Abrolhos Bank (16 o 40’S to 19 o 30’S; 37 o 25’W to 38 o 57’W), northeasternBrazil, has not yet been determined.Previous comparisons of photographs from the Antarctic Peninsula and the Abrolhos Bank showed nomatches (Muñoz et al., 1998; Stevick et al., in press). However, sample sizes were relatively small for theAbrolhos Bank. In this paper, we report an updated comparison between the two areas using a largersample size. We also report new inter-seasonal re-sightings for the Antarctic Peninsula and the WeddellSea.MATERIAL AND METHODSFluke photographs of 375 individually identified humpback whales from the Antarctic Peninsula (295from IWC Management Area I and 80 from Area II) were compared with 983 whales from the AbrolhosBank, northeastern Brazil, to investigate the potential feeding grounds and migratory destination of thehumpback whales breeding off Brazil. The Antarctic photographs were collected by ProjetoBaleias/Brazilian Antarctic Program between 1997 and 2003, and the Abrolhos photographs werecollected by Projeto Baleia Jubarte/Instituto Baleia Jubarte between 1989 and 2000. Both catalogues wereorganized according to decreasing amounts of white on the underside of the flukes, and photographs werecompared serially with the entire dataset. The same procedure was used for inter-seasonal comparisons ofthe Antarctic catalogue, aiming to investigate site fidelity to the feeding grounds.1

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