Abstract Title

Session S-04D: Marine Birds and Mammals of the Salish Sea: Identifying Patterns and Causes of Change - I

Keywords

Species and Food Webs

Location

Room 611-612

Start Date

1-5-2014 8:30 AM

End Date

1-5-2014 10:00 AM

Description

In the Salish Sea and coastal waters of British Columbia, minke whales are known to establish small home ranges during the feeding season. Beyond the feeding season little is known of their movements or distribution. To determine movement patterns of minke whales in these waters we used photo-identification data that were collected opportunistically from 2005-2012. These data were from four non-overlapping areas between 48ºN and 53ºN. Despite year-round search effort, minke whales were only encountered between April and October. Most of the 44 unique minke whales identified in 405 encounters displayed fidelity to areas both within and among feeding seasons. Five of these individuals also made relatively large-scale intra-annual movements between areas on six occasions. They were documented to move up to at least 424km in a northerly direction early in the season and up to at least 398km in a southerly direction late in the season. We believe that the seasonal patterns of these movements provide new insight into the foraging ranges and migrations of individuals. Ecological markers provide further evidence that the minke whales we photographed undertake annual long distance migrations. Scars believed to be from cookiecutter shark bites were observed on 43 individuals and the majority of minke whales documented with good quality images each year had acquired new scars since the previous feeding season. Furthermore, the commensal barnacle Xenobalanus globicipitis was observed on three individuals. Since these sharks and barnacles are from warm waters, it can be inferred that they interacted with the minke whales at lower latitudes. These findings may have important implications for our understanding of minke whale populations in the Salish Sea and the management of this species in the North Pacific.

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May 1st, 8:30 AM May 1st, 10:00 AM

New insights into seasonal foraging ranges and migrations of minke whales from the Salish Sea and coastal British Columbia.

Room 611-612

In the Salish Sea and coastal waters of British Columbia, minke whales are known to establish small home ranges during the feeding season. Beyond the feeding season little is known of their movements or distribution. To determine movement patterns of minke whales in these waters we used photo-identification data that were collected opportunistically from 2005-2012. These data were from four non-overlapping areas between 48ºN and 53ºN. Despite year-round search effort, minke whales were only encountered between April and October. Most of the 44 unique minke whales identified in 405 encounters displayed fidelity to areas both within and among feeding seasons. Five of these individuals also made relatively large-scale intra-annual movements between areas on six occasions. They were documented to move up to at least 424km in a northerly direction early in the season and up to at least 398km in a southerly direction late in the season. We believe that the seasonal patterns of these movements provide new insight into the foraging ranges and migrations of individuals. Ecological markers provide further evidence that the minke whales we photographed undertake annual long distance migrations. Scars believed to be from cookiecutter shark bites were observed on 43 individuals and the majority of minke whales documented with good quality images each year had acquired new scars since the previous feeding season. Furthermore, the commensal barnacle Xenobalanus globicipitis was observed on three individuals. Since these sharks and barnacles are from warm waters, it can be inferred that they interacted with the minke whales at lower latitudes. These findings may have important implications for our understanding of minke whale populations in the Salish Sea and the management of this species in the North Pacific.