Exploring thermal and trophic preference of Balaenoptera physalus in the central Tyrrhenian Sea: a new summer feeding ground?
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In the 1990s, the central Tyrrhenian Sea was regarded as a transit region for fin whales’ (Balaenoptera physalus) summer migration. In recent years, a much higher presence of fin whales during the entire summer season was reported in the region. The hypothesis that the central Tyrrhenian Sea may have become a summer feeding ground was tested gathering data from summer presence of whales in the region (40–42.5°N; 9–13°E) and investigating whether it might be related to sea surface temperature and chlorophyll-a concentration, considered as proxies of food availability. Results showed that whales always aggregate in the more productive portions of the investigated area; the general productivity of the area, however, did not directly influence the frequency of occurrence of whales. We concluded that the complex dynamics of the balance between feeding activities and avoiding pressures may have led fin whales to use the region as an opportunistic feeding ground.
KeywordsMediterranean Basin Whale Sighting Balaenoptera Physalus Entire Mediterranean Basin Whale Distribution
We wish to thank Polo Gasparri, Ilaria Campana, Luigi Galvagni, Daniela Ottaviani, Roberto Inghilesi and all the expert observers of the ACCADEMIA DEL LEVIATANO. We are especially grateful to all the staff of CORSICA SARDINIA FERRIES for their friendly “welcome on board.” Anton La Guardia and Judith Fisher improved the English understanding of the paper. We are also grateful to FONDAZIONE CARICIV which contributed to this project.
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