Pacific humpback whale abundance higher in British Columbia

Sep 11, 2013
Researchers estimated abundance of Pacific humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) using photo-identification surveillance of identifiable adults. Credit: Rob Williams

Humpback whale populations are on the rise in the coastal fjords of British Columbia, doubling in size from 2004 to 2011, according to results published September 18 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Erin Ashe from the Sea Mammal Research Unit at the University of St. Andrews and colleagues from other institutions.

Researchers estimated abundance of Pacific (Megaptera novaeangliae) using photo-identification surveillance of identifiable adults. They found that the number of humpback whales in the region increased each year, and doubled from 2004 to 2011, resulting in a total of 137 whales in 2011. The survey was conducted year-round, but abundance was estimated only during the summer months of July to September, when the migrating whale population is largest.

The survey focused on summer feeding regions in the coastal fjords that serve as a pit stop for whales to refuel between migrations. Migrating whales can travel as far as Hawaii or Japan and go several months without feeding. Whatever the whales are doing seems to be working. The authors estimated that survivorship, the average probability of an adult whale surviving from one year to the next is among the highest reported anywhere for this species. During this critical refueling stage in these waters, the whales are more vulnerable to , such as those potentially created by increasing tourism and industrial development in the region.

Explore further: Dwindling wind may tip predator-prey balance

More information: Ashe E, Wray J, Picard CR, Williams R (2013) Abundance and Survival of Pacific Humpback Whales in a Proposed Critical Habitat Area. PLoS ONE 8(9): e75228. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0075228

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Humpback whales rebounding on Brazil's coast

Sep 02, 2012

(AP)—An institute that tracks the population of Humpback whales that reproduce along Brazil's coast says the number of the once-threatened mammals has tripled over the last 10 years.

Recommended for you

Dwindling wind may tip predator-prey balance

Sep 19, 2014

Bent and tossed by the wind, a field of soybean plants presents a challenge for an Asian lady beetle on the hunt for aphids. But what if the air—and the soybeans—were still?

Asian stars enlisted to fight African rhino poaching

Sep 19, 2014

Increasingly desperate South African conversationists are turning to a multi-national team of "rhino ambassadors" to try to end the scourge of poaching—and Vietnamese pop diva Hong Nhung has been recruited ...

Tropical fish a threat to Mediterranean Sea ecosystems

Sep 18, 2014

The tropical rabbitfish which have devastated algal forests in the eastern Mediterranean Sea pose a major threat to the entire Mediterranean basin if their distribution continues to expand as the climate ...

User comments : 0