Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

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

  • Peter T. Stevick (a1), Simon D. Berrow (a2) (a3), Martine Bérubé (a4), Laurent Bouveret (a5), Fredrik Broms (a6), Beatrice Jann (a7), Amy Kennedy (a8), Pedro López Suárez (a9) (a10), Marine Meunier (a5), Conor Ryan (a2) (a3) and Frederick Wenzel (a11)...

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.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Correspondence should be addressed to:Peter T. Stevick, College of the Atlantic, 105 Eden St, Bar Harbor, ME 04856, USA email: ptstevick@gmail.com

References

Hide All
Acevedo, R., Oviedo, L., Silva, N. and Bermudez-Villapol, L. (2008) A note on the spatial and temporal distribution of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) off Venezuela, southeastern Caribbean. Journal of Cetacean Research and Management 10, 7379.
Allen, J., Carlson, C.A. and Stevick, P.T. (2011) A description and summary of the Antarctic Humpback Whale Catalogue. Journal of Cetacean Research and Management Special Issue 3, 9599.
Baker, C.S., Steel, D., Calambokidis, J., Falcone, E., Gonzalez-Peral, U., Barlow, J., Burdin, A.M., Clapham, P.J., Ford, J.K.B., Gabriele, C.M., Mattila, D., Rojas-Bracho, L., Straley, J.M., Taylor, B.L., Urban, R.J., Wade, P.R., Weller, D., Witteveen, B.H. and Yamaguchi, M. (2013) Strong maternal fidelity and natal philopatry shape genetic structure in North Pacific humpback whales. Marine Ecology Progress Series 494, 291306. doi: 10.3354/meps10508.
Bérubé, M. and Palsbøll, P.J. (1996a) Identification of sex in cetaceans by multiplexing with three ZFX and ZFY specific primers. Molecular Ecology 5, 283287.
Bérubé, M. and Palsbøll, P.J. (1996b) Erratum of identification of sex in cetaceans by multiplexing with three ZFX and ZFY specific primers. Molecular Ecology 5, 602.
Bérubé, M., Rew, M.B., Cole, T., Swartz, S.L., Zolman, E., Oien, N. and Palsbøll, P.J. (2004) Genetic identification of an individual humpback whale between the eastern Caribbean and the Norwegian sea. Marine Mammal Science 20, 657663.
Bonte, D., Van Dyck, H., Bullock, J.M., Coulon, A., Delgado, M., Gibbs, M., Lehouck, V., Matthysen, E., Mustin, K., Saastamoinen, M., Schtickzelle, N., Stevens, V.M., Vandewoestijne, S., Baguette, M., Barton, K., Benton, T.G., Chaput-Bardy, A., Clobert, J., Dytham, C., Hovestadt, T., Meier, C.M., Palmer, S.C.F., Turlure, C. and Travis, J.M.J. (2012) Costs of dispersal. Biological Reviews 87, 290312. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-185X.2011.00201.x.
Calambokidis, J., Steiger, G.H., Straley, J.M., Herman, L.M., Cerchio, S., Salden, D.R., Urbán, R.J., Jacobsen, J., vonZiegesar, O., Balcomb, K.C., Gabriele, C.M., Dalheim, M.E., Uchida, S., Ellis, G., Miyamura, Y., Ladrón de Guevara, P., Yamaguchi, M., Sato, F., Mizroch, S.A., Schendler, L., Rasmussen, K., Barlow, J. and Quinn, T.J.I. (2001) Movements and population structure of humpback whales in the North Pacific. Marine Mammal Science 17, 769794.
Cerchio, S., Gabriele, C.M., Norris, T.F. and Herman, L.M. (1998) Movements of humpback whales between Kauai and Hawaii: implications for population structure and abundance estimation in the Hawaiian Islands. Marine Ecology Progress Series 175, 1322.
Chittleborough, R.G. (1959) Intermingling of two populations of humpback whales. Norsk Hvalfangst-tidende 48, 510521.
Chittleborough, R.G. (1965) Dynamics of two populations of the humpback whale, Megaptera novaeangliae (Borowski). Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 16, 33128.
Clapham, P.J. (1996) The social and reproductive biology of humpback whales: an ecological perspective. Mammal Review 26, 2749.
Clapham, P.J. (2000) The humpback whale: seasonal feeding and breeding in a baleen whale. In Mann, J., Tyack, P.L., Connor, R. and Whitehead, H. (eds) Cetacean societies. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, pp. 173196.
Clapham, P.J. and Mead, J.G. (1999) Megaptera novaeangliae. Mammalian Species 604, 19.
Clapham, P.J. and Zerbini, A.N. (2015) Are social aggregation and temporary immigration driving high rates of increase in some Southern Hemisphere humpback whale populations? Marine Biology 162, 625634.
Clapham, P.J., Palsbøll, P.J., Mattila, D.K. and Vásquez, O. (1992) Composition and dynamics of humpback whale competitive groups in the West Indies. Behaviour 122, 182194.
Coulson, J.C. (2002) Colonial breeding in seabirds. In Schreiber, E.A. and Burger, J. (eds) Biology of marine birds. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, pp. 87113.
Danchin, E. and Cam, E. (2002) Can non-breeding be a cost of breeding dispersal? Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 51, 153163.
Darling, J.D. and Cerchio, S. (1993) Movement of a humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) between Japan and Hawaii. Marine Mammal Science 9, 8489.
Darling, J.D. and McSweeney, D.J. (1985) Observations on the migrations of North Pacific humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae). Canadian Journal of Zoology 63, 308314.
Darling, J.D., Jones, M.E. and Nicklin, C.P. (2006) Humpback whale songs: do they organize males during the breeding season? Behaviour 143, 10511102.
Debrot, A.O., De Meyer, J.A. and Dezentjé, P.J.E. (1998) Additional records and a review of the cetacean fauna of the Leeward Dutch Antilles. Caribbean Journal of Science 34, 204210.
Debrot, A.O., Esteban, N., Bervoets, T., Hoetjes, P.C. and Scheidat, M. (2013) Marine mammals of the north-eastern Caribbean Windward Dutch Islands: Saba, St Eustatius, St Maarten, and the Saba Bank. Caribbean Journal of Science 47, 159172.
Delgado, M.M., Bartoń, K.A., Bonte, D. and Travis, J.M.J. (2014) Prospecting and dispersal: their eco-evolutionary dynamics and implications for population patterns. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 281. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2013.2851.
Hazevoet, C.J. and Wenzel, F.W. (2000) Whales and dolphins (Mammalia, Cetacea) of the Cape Verde Islands, with special reference to the humpback whale Megaptera novaeangliae (Borowski, 1781). Contributions to Zoology 69, 197211.
Jann, B., Allen, J., Carrillo, M., Hanquet, S., Katona, S.K., Martin, A.R., Reeves, R.R., Seton, R., Stevick, P.T. and Wenzel, F.W. (2003) Migration of a humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) between the Cape Verde Islands and Iceland. Journal of Cetacean Research and Management 5, 125129.
Katona, S.K. and Beard, J.A. (1990) Population size, migrations and feeding aggregations of the humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) in the western North Atlantic Ocean. Reports of the International Whaling Commission, Special Issue 12, 295305.
Katona, S.K., Baxter, B., Brazier, O., Kraus, S., Perkins, J. and Whitehead, H. (1979) Identification of humpback whales by fluke photographs. In Winn, H.E. and Olla, B.L. (eds) The behavior of marine animals. Volume 3, Cetacea. New York, NY: Plenum Press, pp. 3344.
Kaufman, G., Coughran, D., Allen, J.M., Burns, D., Burton, C., Castro, C., Childerhouse, S., Constantine, R., Franklin, T., Franklin, W., Forestell, P., Gales, R., Garrigue, C., Gibbs, N., Jenner, C., Paton, D., Noad, M.J., Robbins, J., Slooten, E., Smith, F. and Stevick, P. (2011) Photographic evidence of interchange between East Australia (BS E-1) and West Australia (BS – D) humpback whale breeding populations. Paper SC/63/SH11 presented to the Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Commission. May 2011.
Kennedy, A.S., Zerbini, A.N., Vásquez, O.V., Gandilhon, N., Clapham, P.J. and Adam, O. (2013) Local and migratory movements of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) satellite-tracked in the North Atlantic Ocean. Canadian Journal of Zoology 92, 817. doi: 10.1139/cjz-2013-0161.
Krause, J. and Ruxton, G.D. (2002) Living in groups. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Matthiopoulos, J., Harwood, J. and Thomas, L.E.N. (2005) Metapopulation consequences of site fidelity for colonially breeding mammals and birds. Journal of Animal Ecology 74, 716727. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2656.2005.00970.x.
Mattila, D.K. and Clapham, P.J. (1989) Humpback whales, Megaptera novaeangliae, and other cetaceans on Virgin Bank and in the northern Leeward Islands, 1985 and 1986. Canadian Journal of Zoology 67, 22012211.
Mattila, D.K., Clapham, P.J., Katona, S.K. and Stone, G.S. (1989) Population composition of humpback whales, Megaptera novaeangliae, on Silver Bank, 1984. Canadian Journal of Zoology 67, 281285.
Mattila, D.K., Clapham, P.J., Vásquez, O. and Bowman, R.S. (1994) Occurrence, population composition, and habitat use of humpback whales in Samana Bay, Dominican Republic. Canadian Journal of Zoology 72, 18981907.
Mignucci-Giannoni, A.A. (1998) Zoogeography of cetaceans off Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Caribbean Journal of Science 34, 173190.
NMFS (1991) Recovery plan for the humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae). Silver Springs, MD: National Marine Fisheries Service.
Olavarría, C., Baker, C.S., Garrigue, C., Poole, M., Hauser, N., Caballero, S., Flórez-González, L., Brasseur, M., Bannister, J.L., Capella, J., Clapham, P., Dodgemont, R., Donoghue, M., Jenner, C., Jenner, M-N., Moro, D., Oremus, M., Paton, D., Rosenbaum, H.C. and Russell, K. (2007) Population structure of South Pacific humpback whales and the origin of the eastern Polynesian breeding grounds. Marine Ecology Progress Series 330, 257268.
Oviedo, L. and Solís, M. (2008) Underwater topography determines critical breeding habitat for humpback whales near Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica: implications for Marine Protected Areas. Revista de Biología Tropical 56, 591602.
Palsbøll, P.J., Allen, J., Bérubé, M., Clapham, P.J., Feddersen, T.P., Hammond, P.S., Hudson, R.R., Jorgensen, H., Katona, S., Larsen, A.H., Larsen, F., Lien, J., Mattila, D.K., Sigurjónsson, J., Sears, R., Smith, T., Sponer, R., Stevick, P. and Øien, N. (1997) Genetic tagging of humpback whales. Nature, London 388, 767769.
Pomilla, C. and Rosenbaum, H.C. (2005) Against the current: an inter-oceanic whale migration event. Biology Letters 1, 476479.
Rabouam, C., Thibault, J. and Bretagnolle, V. (1998) Natal philopatry and close inbreeding in Cory's shearwater (Calonectris diomedea). The Auk 115, 483486.
Rasmussen, K., Palacios, D.M., Calambokidis, J., Saborío, M.T., Dalla Rosa, L., Secchi, E.R., Steiger, G.H., Allen, J.M. and Stone, G.S. (2007) Southern Hemisphere humpback whales wintering off Central America: insights from water temperature into the longest mammalian migration. Biology Letters 3, 302305. doi: 310.1098/rsbl.2007.0067.
Reeves, R.R., Clapham, P.J. and Wetmore, S.E. (2002) American humpback whaling and humpback whale occurrence in the Cape Verde Islands, eastern Atlantic Ocean. Journal of Cetacean Research and Management 4, 235253.
Reeves, R.R., Swartz, S., Wetmore, S.E. and Clapham, P.J. (2001) Historical occurrence and distribution of humpback whales in the eastern and southern Caribbean Sea, based on data from American whaling logbooks. Journal of Cetacean Research and Management 3, 117129.
Reiner, F., dos Santos, M.E. and Wenzel, F.W. (1996) Cetaceans of the Cape Verde archipelago. Marine Mammal Science 12, 434443.
Reynolds, J.D. (1996) Animal breeding systems. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 11, 6872. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/0169-5347(96)81045-7.
Rinaldi, C., Sears, R., Stevick, P.T. and Carlson, C. (2009) First resighting of a humpback whale between the French Lesser Antilles and the North Atlantic feeding grounds off Canada. Paper IWC/SC61/013 presented to the Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Commission, June 2009. 4 pp.
Robbins, J., Allen, J.M., Clapham, P.J. and Mattila, D.K. (2006) Stock identity of a humpback whale taken in a southeastern Caribbean hunt. Journal of Cetacean Research and Management 8, 2931.
Robbins, J., Dalla Rosa, L., Allen, J.M., Mattila, D.K., Secchi, E.R., Friedlaender, A.S., Stevick, P.T., Nowacek, D.P. and Steel, D. (2011) Return movement of a humpback whale between the Antarctic Peninsula and American Samoa: a seasonal migration record. Endangered Species Research 13, 117121. doi: 10.3354/esr00328.
Romero, A., Hayford, K.T. and Romero, J. (2002) The marine mammals of Grenada, WI, and their conservation status. Mammalia 66, 479494.
Rosenbaum, H.C., Pomilla, C., Mendez, M., Leslie, M.S., Best, P.B., Findlay, K.P., Minton, G., Ersts, P.J., Collins, T., Engel, M.H., Bonatto, S.L., Kotze, D.P.G.H., Meÿer, M., Barendse, J., Thornton, M., Razafindrakoto, Y., Ngouessono, S., Vely, M. and Kiszka, J. (2009) Population structure of humpback whales from their breeding grounds in the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans. PLoS ONE 4, e7318. doi: 7310.1371/journal.pone.0007318.
Ryan, C., McHugh, B., Boyle, B., McGovern, E., Bérubé, M., Lopez-Suárez, P., Elfes, C.T., Boyd, D.T., Ylitalo, G.M., Van Blaricom, G.R., Clapham, P.J., Robbins, J., Palsbøll, P.J., O'Connor, I. and Berrow, S.D. (2013) Levels of persistent organic pollutants in eastern North Atlantic humpback whales. Endangered Species Research 22, 213223. doi: 10.3354/esr00545.
Ryan, C., Wenzel, F.W., López Suárez, P. and Berrow, S.D. (2014) An abundance estimate for humpback whales, Megaptera novaeangliae, breeding around Boa Vista, Cape Verde Islands. Zoologia Caboverdiana 5, 2028.
Salden, D.R., Herman, L.M., Yamaguchi, M. and Sato, F. (1999) Multiple visits of individual humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) between the Hawaiian and Japanese winter grounds. Canadian Journal of Zoology 77, 504508.
Schjorring, S. (2002) The evolution of informed natal dispersal: inherent versus acquired information. Evolutionary Ecology Research 4, 227238.
Smith, T.D., Allen, J., Clapham, P.J., Hammond, P.S., Katona, S., Larsen, F., Lien, J., Mattila, D., Palsbøll, P.J., Sigurjónsson, J., Stevick, P.T. and Øien, N. (1999) An ocean-basin-wide mark-recapture study of the North Atlantic humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae). Marine Mammal Science 15, 132.
Stevick, P.T., Allen, J., Bérubé, M., Clapham, P.J., Katona, S.K., Larsen, F., Lien, J., Mattila, D.K., Palsbøll, P.J., Robbins, J., Sigurjónsson, J., Smith, T.D., Øien, N. and Hammond, P.S. (2003) Segregation of migration by feeding ground origin in North Atlantic humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae). Journal of Zoology, London 259, 231237.
Stevick, P.T., Allen, J.M., Engel, M.H., Félix, F., Haas, B. and Neves, M.C. (2014) Inter-oceanic movement of an adult female humpback whale between Pacific and Atlantic breeding grounds off South America. Journal of Cetacean Research and Management 13, 159162.
Stevick, P.T., Carlson, C.A. and Balcomb, K.C. (1999) A note on the migratory destinations of humpback whales from the eastern Caribbean. Journal of Cetacean Research and Management 1, 251254.
Stevick, P.T., Neves, M.C., Johansen, F., Engel, M.H., Allen, J., Marcondes, M.C.C. and Carlson, C. (2010) A quarter of a world away: female humpback whale moves 10,000 km between breeding areas. Biology Letters 7, 299302. doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2010.0717.
Swartz, S.L., Cole, T., McDonald, M.A., Hildebrand, J.A., Oleson, E.M., Martinez, A., Clapham, P.J., Barlow, J. and Jones, M.L. (2003) Acoustic and visual survey of humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) distribution in the eastern and southeastern Caribbean Sea. Caribbean Journal of Science 39, 195208.
Taylor, B.L. (1997) Defining “population” to meet management objectives for marine mammals. In Dizon, A.E., Chivers, S.J. and Perrin, W.F. (eds) Molecular genetics of marine mammals. Lawrence, KS: Marine Mammal Science Special Publication, Volume 33, pp. 4965.
Urbán, R.J., Jaramillo, L.A., Aguayo, L.A., Ladrón de Guevara, P.P., Salinas, Z.M., Alvarez, F.C., Medrano, G.L., Jacobsen, J.K., Balcomb, K.C., Claridge, D.E., Calambokidis, J., Steiger, G.H., Straley, J.M., vonZiegesar, O., Waite, J.M., Mizroch, S.A., Dalheim, M.E., Darling, J.D. and Baker, C.S. (2000) Migratory destinations of humpback whales wintering in the Mexican Pacific. Journal of Cetacean Research and Management 2, 101110.
Valsecchi, E., Palsbøll, P.J., Hale, P., Glockner-Ferrari, D.A., Ferrari, M., Clapham, P., Larsen, F., Mattila, D., Sears, R., Sigurjónsson, J., Brown, M., Corkeron, P. and Amos, B. (1997) Microsatellite genetic distances between oceanic populations of the humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae). Molecular Biology and Evolution 14, 355362.
Wenzel, F.W., Allen, J., Berrow, S.D., Hazevoet, C.J., Jann, B., Seton, R.E., Steiner, L., Stevick, P.T., López Suárez, P. and Whooley, P. (2009) Current knowledge on the distribution and relative abundance of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) off the Cape Verde Islands, eastern North Atlantic. Aquatic Mammals 35, 502510.
Whitehead, H. and Moore, M.J. (1982) Distribution and movements of West Indian humpback whales in winter. Canadian Journal of Zoology 60, 22032211.
Zerbini, A.N., Andriolo, A., Da Rocha, J.M., Simões-Lopes, P.C., Siciliano, S., Pizzorno, J.L., Waite, J.M., DeMaster, D.P. and VanBlaricom, G.R. (2004) Winter distribution and abundance of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) off Northeastern Brazil. Journal of Cetacean Research and Management 6, 101107.

Keywords

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed