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Site fidelity and residence times of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) on the Brazilian coast

  • Clarêncio G. Baracho-Neto (a1), Elitieri Santos Neto (a1), Marcos R. Rossi-Santos (a1), Leonardo L. Wedekin (a1), Mariana C. Neves (a1), Flavio Lima (a2) and Deborah Faria (a3)...
Abstract

Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) migrate between their feeding grounds, located in high latitudes, and their breeding grounds, located in low latitudes, exhibiting certain levels of site fidelity to their migratory destinations. The residence time, also known as occupancy rate, can be defined as the minimum number of days that those individuals remained in the same area. In this paper, site fidelity and residence time of humpback whales that breed off the northern coast of Bahia, Brazil were investigated. Data were collected between 2000 and 2009 on-board research cruises and whale watching vessels. This paper also studies possible differences between males and females with respect to site fidelity off the Brazilian coast, using data collected since 1989. A total of 841 whales were photo-identified. The vast majority of the whales (96%, N = 809) were seen only once in the studied area, while 4% (32 individuals) were seen twice. Most of the resights occurred within the same season (72%, N = 23), while 9 resights (28%) occurred in different years. None of the individuals were seen more than twice. The average site fidelity rate was 1% and the occupancy rate varied from one up to 21 days (mean = 5.3; SD = 5.4, N = 23).

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Corresponding author
Correspondence should be addressed to: C.B. Baracho-Neto, Instituto Baleia Jubarte, Avenida do Farol–AC/Farol—Cx. Postal 92, 48.280-971, Praia do Forte, Mata de São João, Bahia, Brazil email: clarencio.baracho@baleiajubarte.org.br
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