, Volume 31, Issue 7, pp 771-781
Date: 06 Feb 2008

Movements of satellite-monitored humpback whales on their feeding ground along the Antarctic Peninsula

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Abstract

Humpback whales were instrumented with satellite transmitters off the western Antarctic Peninsula in January of 2004–2006 to examine their movement patterns and habitat use. Whales were tracked from 4 to 80 days (mean = 36.5 days). Distance and travel rate estimates for nine individuals ranged from 223 to 4,356 km and from 17 to 75 km/day, respectively. Considerable individual variation was observed in direction, speed and range of movements. The overall pattern was characterized by short- and long-distance movements between presumed foraging areas with relatively short residency times. Travel rates were lower at these sites, characterized by erratic movements, than during traveling between them. Area usage for six individuals based on the 95% fixed kernel home range with least squares cross-validation ranged from 2,771 to 172,356 km2. The management boundary between the feeding grounds associated with Breeding Stocks G and A needs revision, as current available data suggest it should be located to the east of 50°W. This study is the first to present detailed information on the movements of humpback whales in the Southern Ocean.