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Feeding grounds of the eastern South Pacific humpback whale population include the South Orkney Islands

Author(s): Luciano Dalla Rosa | Fernando Félix | Peter T. Stevick | Eduardo R. Secchi | Judith M. Allen | Kim Chater | Anthony R. Martin | Manuela Bassoi

Journal: Polar Research
ISSN 0800-0395

Volume: 31;
Start page: 1;
Date: 2012;
Original page

Keywords: Humpback whale | photo-identification | breeding stocks | migration | South Orkney Islands | Southern Ocean

This paper reports on two photo-identified humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) that were sighted in different years in the proximity of the South Orkney Islands, at the boundary between the Scotia and Weddell seas (60°54.5'S—46°40.4'W and 60°42.6'S—45°33'W). One of the whales had been previously sighted off Ecuador, a breeding ground for the eastern South Pacific population. The other whale was subsequently resighted in Bransfield Strait, off the western Antarctic Peninsula, a well-documented feeding ground for the same population. These matches give support to a hypothesis that the area south of the South Orkney Islands is occupied by whales from the eastern South Pacific breeding stock. Consequently, we propose 40°W as a new longitudinal boundary between the feeding grounds associated with the eastern South Pacific and western South Atlantic breeding stocks.
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