Migratory destinations of humpback whales from the Magellan Strait feeding ground, southeast Pacific


Acevedo, J., K. Rasmussen, F. Félix, C. Castro, M. Llano, E. Secchi, M.T. Saborío, A. Aguayo-Lobo, B. Haase, M. Scheidat, L. Dalla-Rosa, C. Olavarría, P. Forestell, P. Acuña, G. Kaufman, L.A. Pastene. 2007. Migratory destinations of humpback whales from the Magellan Strait feeding ground, southeast Pacific. Marine Mammal Science 23:453-463.


Historical summer feeding and winter breeding grounds of humpback whales in the southeast Pacific humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) have been recorded in the west of the Antarctic Peninsula during the austral summer and off Ecuador and Colombia during the austral winter (Kellogg 1929, Mackintosh 1965, Fl´orez- Gonz´alez et al. 1998, Scheidat et al. 2000, F´elix and Haase 2001). In recent years, southeast Pacific humpback whales have been found further north, off Panama and Costa Rica during the austral winter (Acevedo and Smultea 1995; Fl´orez-Gonz´alez et al. 1998; Rasmussen, personal observation), in areas also frequented by northeast Pacific humpback whales during the boreal winter (Steiger et al. 1991). Furthermore the species has recently been observed feeding in the Magellan Strait, Chile, during the austral summer and fall (Gibbons et al. 2003, Acevedo et al. 2004, Acevedo et al. 2006).                                      Migratory connections have been established between the feeding area in the Antarctic Peninsula and wintering destinations off Ecuador and Colombia using photo-identification (Stone et al. 1990, Garrigue et al. 2002, Stevick et al. 2004) and genetic analyses (Olavarr´ıa 1999, Caballero et al. 2000, Olavarr´ıa et al. 2000), and the wintering grounds off Panama and Costa Rica using photo-identification (Rasmussen et al. 2004). The migratory destination(s) for the Magellan Strait humpback whales has not, however, been previously documented. Here we present the first evidence of a migratory connection between the Magellan Strait feeding area and wintering grounds off both the northwest coast of South America and the southwest coast of Central America.

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