Bryde's whale (Balaenoptera brydei/edeni) sightings in the southern California Bight


Smultea, M.A., A.B. Douglas, C.E. Bacon, T.A. Jefferson and L. Mazzuca. 2012. Bryde's whale (Balaenoptera brydei/edeni) sightings in the southern California Bight. Aquatic Mammals 38:92-97.


Given the paucity of confirmed sightings over the last 20 y, and its traditional, more tropical or low-latitude distribution, the Bryde’s whale (Balaenoptera brydei/edeni)1 has been excluded from recent National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) stock assessment reports of cetaceans occurring in the Southern California Bight (SCB) (Carretta et al., 2011). The last U.S. Pacific marine mammal stock assessment to include the Bryde’s whale was in 2006 (Carretta et al., 2007). During the past five decades, only two confirmed sightings of Bryde’s whales were documented off Southern California (Table 1). In January 1963, a Bryde’s whale (originally misidentified as a fin whale) was seen near La Jolla, California (Nicklin, 1963; Morejohn & Rice, 1973) (Table 1). In October 1991, another Bryde’s whale was sighted off Monterey Bay (Barlow, 1997). The latter sighting, along with five other possible sightings (labeled as sei [B. borealis] or Bryde’s whales), occurred during extensive systematic ship/vessel and aerial surveys conducted in California waters between 1991 and 2008 (e.g., Carretta & Forney, 1993; Hamilton et al., 2009; Barlow et al., 2010) (Table 1).

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