Polar Biology

, Volume 31, Issue 12, pp 1509–1520 | Cite as

Decline in energy storage in the Antarctic minke whale (Balaenoptera bonaerensis) in the Southern Ocean

  • Kenji KonishiEmail author
  • Tsutomu Tamura
  • Ryoko Zenitani
  • Takeharu Bando
  • Hidehiro Kato
  • Lars Walløe
Original Paper


The annual trend in energy storage in the Antarctic minke whale was examined using catch data from all 18 survey years in the Japanese Whale Research Program (JARPA). Regression analyses clearly showed that blubber thickness, girth and fat weight have been decreasing for nearly 2 decades. The decrease per year is estimated at approximately 0.02 cm for mid-lateral blubber thickness and 17 kg for fat weight, corresponding to 9% for both measurements over the 18-year period. Furthermore, “date”, “extent of diatom adhesion”, “sex”, “body length”, “fetus length”, “latitude”, “age” and “longitude” were all identified as partially independent predictors of blubber thickness. The direct interpretation of this substantial decline in energy storage in terms of food availability is difficult, since no long-term krill abundance series is available. However, an increase in the abundance of krill feeders other than minke whales and a resulting decrease in the krill population must be considered as a likely explanation.


Antarctica Minke whale Balaenoptera bonaerensis Long-term change Euphausia superba Prey availability 



We would like to thank all the captains and crews, especially for K. Makita and Y. Murai, of the ships that took part and the scientists who were involved in JARPA surveys. Thanks are also due to Y. Fujise for providing us with small fetus length datasets of the minke whales, to Y. Hosone for helping us to organize the data set, and to Alison Coulthard for correcting the English. We would also like to thank D. Butterworth, S. Ohsumi, H. Hatanaka, T. Ichii, T. Hakamada and other people who have helped with and made valuable comments on this paper. The JARPA program was conducted with permission from the Japanese fisheries agency.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kenji Konishi
    • 1
    Email author
  • Tsutomu Tamura
    • 1
  • Ryoko Zenitani
    • 1
  • Takeharu Bando
    • 1
  • Hidehiro Kato
    • 2
  • Lars Walløe
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute of Cetacean ResearchTokyoJapan
  2. 2.Tokyo University of Marine Science and TechnologyTokyoJapan
  3. 3.Department of Physiology, Institute of Basic Medical SciencesUniversity of OsloOsloNorway

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