[MARMAM] new paper on pygmy killer whales in Hawai'i

Robin W Baird RWBaird at cascadiaresearch.org
Wed Dec 31 09:15:22 PST 2008

A new paper just published on-line:
McSweeney, D.J., R.W. Baird, S.D. Mahaffy, D.L.Webster and G.S. Schorr. 2008. Site fidelity and association patterns of a rare species: pygmy killer whales (Feresa attenuata) in the main Hawaiian Islands. Marine Mammal Science DOI: 10.1111/j.1748-7692.2008.00267.x
Most of what we know about cetacean biology and ecology comes from studies of relatively common species. Despite their distribution throughout the tropics and sub-tropics, pygmy killer whales (Feresa attenuata) are rare throughout their range and are one of the most poorly-known species of odontocetes. During a 22-year study of short-finned pilot whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus) off the island of Hawai'i, we opportunistically photo-identified pygmy killer whales whenever encountered. As part of a directed multi-species study throughout the main Hawaiian Islands from 2000 through 2007, we also photo-identified individuals and obtained information on habitat use and behavior. This species was extremely uncommon (representing only 1.2% of odontocete sightings in directed efforts). Given the low encounter rates, assessing trends of this population cannot be feasibly done with line-transect surveys. Despite their rarity, 80% of the distinctive individuals within groups documented off the island of Hawai'i were seen on multiple occasions, individuals were re-sighted over periods of up to 21 yr, and there was evidence of year-round use of the area. Association analyses indicate stable long-term associations in mixed-sex groups. High re-sighting rates indicate a small population of island-associated individuals that may be at risk from anthropogenic impacts. 
More information and photographs are at www.cascadiaresearch.org/robin/pygmykillerwhale.htm
Marine Mammal Science subscribers can download a pdf from the journal web site via the Member Area link at www.marinemammalogy.org, or contact me for a pdf.
Happy new year
Robin W. Baird, Ph.D.
Research Biologist
Cascadia Research Collective
218 1/2 W. 4th Avenue
Olympia, WA
98501 USA
Phone 1-360-943-7325
Fax 1-360-943-7026
e-mail: rwbaird at cascadiaresearch.org
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