[MARMAM] Disappearing Fin Whales in the Bay of Biscay - anybody know why?

Dylan Walker dylanhwalker at yahoo.co.uk
Tue Aug 4 03:27:35 PDT 2009

Hi Marmamers,
This year, for the first time in 15 years of dedicated research, Fin Whales have failed to appear in the Bay of Biscay (waters between France and Spain in the eastern North Atlantic) for the late summer feeding season. 
A number of research organisations have been conducting long-term ferry-based monitoring programmes in the Bay of Biscay for 15 years now, including Marinelife http://www.biscay-dolphin.org.uk/ and ORCA http://www.orcaweb.org.uk/ . 
The information from these databases shows that although small numbers are seen throughout the year, a clear and predictable pattern of Fin Whale movement into the eastern part of the Bay of Biscay occurs annually from mid July onwards, with numbers building up to a peak in mid August, before declining steadily through until October. 
A typical ferry crossing at this time of year would involve between 50 and 100 Fin Whale sightings. This year, as of 2nd August, there are none!
The reasons for this are unclear to us, and compounded by the fact that we know nothing about the distribution of these animals when they are not in the Bay of Biscay. 
We would be very interested, therefore, to hear from anybody in the eastern or western North Atlantic experiencing either unusually high numbers of Fin Whales, or Fin Whales that are remaining in their area longer than would normally be the case. 
Please email your comments to both of the following: 
Dylan Walker at: dylan at orcaweb.org.uk 
Clive Martin at: Clive.Martin at biscay-dolphin.org.uk
We look forward to hearing from fellow Fin Whale watchers in the hope of solving this mystery!!

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