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Humpback whale migrations to Antarctic summer foraging grounds through the southwest Pacific Ocean


Andrews-Goff, V and Bestley, S and Gales, NJ and Laverick, SM and Paton, D and Polanowski, AM and Schmitt, NT and Double, MC, Humpback whale migrations to Antarctic summer foraging grounds through the southwest Pacific Ocean, Scientific Reports, 8, (1) Article 123333. ISSN 2045-2322 (2018) [Refereed Article]


Copyright Statement

Copyright 2018 The Authors. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

DOI: doi:10.1038/s41598-018-30748-4


Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) populations typically undertake seasonal migrations, spending winters in low latitude breeding grounds and summers foraging in high latitude feeding grounds. Until recently, a broad scale understanding of whale movement has been derived from whaling records, Discovery marks, photo identification and genetic analyses. However, with advances in satellite tagging technology and concurrent development of analytical methodologies we can now detail finer scale humpback whale movement, infer behavioural context and examine how these animals interact with their physical environment. Here we describe the temporal and spatial characteristics of migration along the east Australian seaboard and into the Southern Ocean by 30 humpback whales satellite tagged over three consecutive austral summers. We characterise the putative Antarctic feeding grounds and identify supplemental foraging within temperate, migratory corridors. We demonstrate that Antarctic foraging habitat is associated with the marginal ice zone, with key predictors of inferred foraging behaviour including distance from the ice edge, ice melt rate and variability in ice concentration two months prior to arrival. We discuss the highly variable ice season within the putative foraging habitat and the implications that this and other environmental factors may have on the continued strong recovery of this humpback whale population.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:bio-telemetry, whales, behavoural modelling, foraging habitat
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Behavioural ecology
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Management of Antarctic and Southern Ocean environments
Objective Field:Biodiversity in Antarctic and Southern Ocean environments
UTAS Author:Bestley, S (Dr Sophie Bestley)
ID Code:130917
Year Published:2018
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (DE180100828)
Web of Science® Times Cited:45
Deposited By:Ecology and Biodiversity
Deposited On:2019-02-20
Last Modified:2019-03-07
Downloads:83 View Download Statistics

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