Magnetoreception and Biomineralization of Magnetite in Cetaceans

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Abstract

Living cetaceans comprise two suborders, Mysticeti (the baleen whales) and Odontoceti (the toothed whales). Within both groups are species which migrate over extended areas (reviews in Kinne, 1975; Baker, 1978). In general, the mysticetes are more predictable in their migration patterns and appear to range over a larger area. Although much remains to be learned about specific migration routes, it is probably safe to say that most mysticetes follow a similar pattern. They feed during the summer in polar and subpolar waters and breed in temperate to tropical waters in the winter. Bowhead whales, which are predominantly arctic in distribution, and Bryde’s whales, which are primarily tropical, appear to be the only exceptions. The migrations between feeding and breeding grounds can be extensive, e.g., 5000 miles in the case of the gray whale (Pike, 1962). They can also be remarkable in their precision, e.g., humpback whales are able to locate the Hawaiian Islands after a journey over thousands of miles of open ocean on their southern journey from Alaska (Baker et al., 1982; Darling and Jurasz, 1983; Darling and McSweeny, 1983). The odontocetes have less spectacular migrations, but they still travel over substantial stretches of ocean.