[MARMAM] New minke whale publication

Dr Kevin Robinson kev.robinson at crru.org.uk
Tue Jun 2 08:18:28 PDT 2009

Dear Marmamers,


We are pleased to announce the publication of the following article in the Journal Of Coastal Conservation:

Robinson K.P., Tetley M.J. & Mitchelson-Jacob E.G. (2009) The distribution and habitat preference of coastally occurring minke whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) in north-east Scotland. Journal of Coastal Conservation 13(1): 39-48 (DOI: <http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11852-009-0050-2>  10.1007/s11852-009-0050-2).


The coastal waters of the Moray Firth in northeast Scotland (57º41’N 2º40’W) provide rich, inshore feeding grounds for minke whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) during the summer and autumnal months. In order to better understand the habitat selection, movements and feeding ecology of the animals utilising this North Sea region, distribution data from the southern coastline of the outer Moray Firth were subsequently examined with respect to the marine physiography of the area, specifically the environmental variables water depth, slope, aspect and sediment-type. A total of 305 minke whale encounters – collected from dedicated boat surveys conducted between May and October 2001 to 2006 inclusive – were used in the construction of a Geographic Information System (GIS) for the 860 square-km study site. The subsequent analysis revealed a strong spatial preference by whales in this location for water depths between 20 and 50 metres (mean 46.9 m, SD = 30.9), steep slopes (mean 75.7 degrees, SD = 8.9), a northerly-facing aspect and sandy-gravel sediment type. Kruskal-Wallis tests for variance confirmed that the distribution of B. acutorostrata was significantly different across each of these physiographic features examined (P < 0.05). In particular, water depth and sediment type were shown to be highly correlated with the frequency of whales observed (Spearman’s Rank Correlation P < 0.05 for depth and sediment respectively). From these results, we conclude that sea bottom characteristics may be used to predict the fine-scale distribution of minke whales on their feeding grounds; the physiographic features identified providing valuable proxies for inferring prey distributions in the absence of fisheries data. However, an appreciation of both abiotic and biotic factors (using a combination of GIS and remote sensing outputs) is clearly desirable for ecosystem-based management approaches for the coastal conservation of these whales. The application of GIS capacities to ecological studies based largely on field data of these marine mammals is highly recommended in the present study to cetologists, environmental modellers and conservation managers alike.


The article may be downloaded directly from www.springerlink.com/content/t34m4145qj41m4l4/


Best wishes




Dr. Kevin Robinson
 <mailto:kev.robinson at crru.org.uk> kev.robinson at crru.org.uk 

Cetacean Research & Rescue Unit (CRRU)
P.O. Box 11307
Banff AB45 3WB
Tel: (+44) 01261 851696
Email:  <mailto:mailbox at crru.org.uk> mailbox at crru.org.uk Website: www.crru.org.uk
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Supported by the Earthwatch Institute  <http://www.earthwatch.org/> www.earthwatch.org & Care for the Wild International  <http://www.careforthewild.com/> www.careforthewild.com 

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