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There and back again: multiple and return exchange of humpback whales between breeding habitats separated by an ocean basin

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 March 2016

Peter T. Stevick
Affiliation:
College of the Atlantic, 105 Eden St, Bar Harbor, ME 04856, USA
Simon D. Berrow
Affiliation:
Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, Merchant's Quay, Kilrush, Co. Clare, Ireland Department of Life Sciences, Marine and Freshwater Research Centre, Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, Dublin Road, Galway, Ireland
Martine Bérubé
Affiliation:
Marine Evolution and Conservation, Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Studies, University of Groningen, PO Box 11103, Groningen, the Netherlands
Laurent Bouveret
Affiliation:
Observatoire des Mammifères Marins de l'Archipel Guadeloupéen, Route Hégésippe Legitimus, Beauport, 97117 Port-Louis, Guadeloupe, FWI
Fredrik Broms
Affiliation:
Akvaplan-niva AS, Fram Centre, P.O. Box 6606 Langnes, Tromsø, Norway
Beatrice Jann
Affiliation:
Swiss Whale Society, CH-6900 Massagno, Switzerland
Amy Kennedy
Affiliation:
NOAA, National Marine Fisheries Service, National Marine Mammal Laboratory, Alaska Fisheries Science Center, 7600 Sand Point Way Northeast, Seattle, WA 98115, USA
Pedro López Suárez
Affiliation:
Bios.CV, Sal-Rei. Boa Vista, Republic of Cape Verde Naturalia Capa Verde Lda. Sal-Rei. Boa Vista, Republic of Cape Verde
Marine Meunier
Affiliation:
Observatoire des Mammifères Marins de l'Archipel Guadeloupéen, Route Hégésippe Legitimus, Beauport, 97117 Port-Louis, Guadeloupe, FWI
Conor Ryan
Affiliation:
Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, Merchant's Quay, Kilrush, Co. Clare, Ireland Department of Life Sciences, Marine and Freshwater Research Centre, Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, Dublin Road, Galway, Ireland
Frederick Wenzel
Affiliation:
NOAA, National Marine Fisheries Service, Northeast Fisheries Science Center, 166 Water Street, Woods Hole, MA 02543, USA
Corresponding
E-mail address:

Abstract

In species that aggregate for reproduction, the social and fitness costs of movement between groups frequently lead to restricted exchange between breeding areas. We report on four individual humpback whales identified in both the Cape Verde Islands and Guadeloupe; locations separated by an ocean basin and >4000 km. This rate of exchange is rarely encountered between such geographically discrete breeding areas. Two individuals returned to the area where they were originally identified. In contrast, no individuals from the Cape Verde Islands were resighted to the much larger sample from the Dominican Republic, though the migratory distances from the feeding areas are comparable between these areas. The social factors driving the stark difference between groups that is observed here are not clear. Effective conservation requires an understanding of the extent and pattern of movement between population units. The findings presented here suggest that there may well be more than one behaviourally distinct group within the West Indies. More broadly, they argue that considerable caution is warranted in assumptions made regarding the number, boundaries and status of population units based solely on spatial separation or proximity.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 2016 

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