Southern Hemisphere humpback whales wintering off Central America: Insights from water temperature into the longest mammalian migration

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Rasmussen, K., Palacios, D. M., Calambokidis, J., Saborío, M. T., Dalla Rosa, L., Secchi, E. R., … Stone, G. S. (2007). Southern Hemisphere humpback whales wintering off Central America: Insights from water temperature into the longest mammalian migration. Biology Letters, 3(3), 302-305. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2007.0067
Metadata
TitleSouthern Hemisphere humpback whales wintering off Central America: Insights from water temperature into the longest mammalian migration
AuthorsK. Rasmussen, D. Palacios, J. Calambokidis, M. Saborío, L. Dalla Rosa, E. Secchi, G. Steiger, J. Allen, G. Stone
AbstractWe report on a wintering area off the Pacific coast of Central America for humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) migrating from feeding areas off Antarctica. We document seven individuals, including a mother/calf pair, that made this migration (approx. 8300 km), the longest movement undertaken by any mammal. Whales were observed as far north as 11° N off Costa Rica, in an area also used by a boreal population during the opposite winter season, resulting in unique spatial overlap between Northern and Southern Hemisphere populations. The occurrence of such a northerly wintering area is coincident with the development of an equatorial tongue of cold water in the eastern South Pacific, a pattern that is repeated in the eastern South Atlantic. A survey of location and water temperature at the wintering areas worldwide indicates that they are found in warm waters (21.1-28.3°C), irrespective of latitude. We contend that while availability of suitable reproductive habitat in the wintering areas is important at the fine scale, water temperature influences whale distribution at the basin scale. Calf development in warm water may lead to larger adult size and increased reproductive success, a strategy that supports the energy conservation hypothesis as a reason for migration. © 2007 The Royal Society.
JournalBiology Letters
Date2007
Volume3
Issue3
Start page302
End page305
ISSN1744-9561
Subjectsanimal, article, ecosystem, geography, humpback whale, Pacific Ocean, physiology, population migration, temperature, water flow, animal experiment, Central America, controlled study, female, geographic distribution, male, nonhuman, priority journal, reproductive success, seasonal variation, temperature measurement, water temperature, Animal Migration, Animals, Water Movements, feeding, migration, sea surface temperature, whale, Antarctica, Costa Rica, Cetacea, Mammalia, Megaptera, Megaptera novaeangliae
NoteCited By (since 1996):53, Marine Mammals, Birds & Turtles

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