[MARMAM] New paper on North Atlantic fin whales

Gisli Vikingsson gisli at hafro.is
Wed Nov 4 11:41:15 PST 2009

Announcing a new publication including previously unpublished abundance

Víkingsson, G.A., Pike, D.G., Desportes, G., Øien, N., Gunnlaugsson, Th.
and Bloch, D. 2009. Distribution and abundance of fin whales (Balaenoptera
physalus) in the Northeast and Central Atlantic as inferred from the North
Atlantic Sightings Surveys 1987-2001. NAMMCO Sci. Publ. 7:49-72.


North Atlantic Sightings Surveys (NASS) is a series of large scale
international cetacean line transect surveys, conducted in 1987, 1989,
1995 and 2001, that covered a large part of the central and eastern North
Atlantic. Target species were fin (Balaenoptera physalus), common minke
(B. acutorostrata), pilot (Globicephala melas) and sei (B. borealis)
whales. Here we present new estimates of abundance for fin whales from the
2 most recent surveys and analysis of trends throughout the survey period.
Fin whales were found in highest densities in the Irminger Sea between
Iceland and Greenland. Abundance of fin whales in the survey area of the
Icelandic and Faroese vessels (Central North Atlantic) was estimated as
19,672 (95% C.I. 12,083-28,986) animals in 1995 and 24,887 (95% C.I.
18,186-30,214) in 2001. The estimates are negatively biased because of
whales diving during the passage of vessels, and whales being missed by
observers, but these and other potential biases are likely small for this
species. The abundance of fin whales increased significantly over the
survey period. For all areas combined the estimated annual growth rate was
4%. An estimated annual increase of 10% in the area between Iceland and
Greenland was responsible for most of this overall increase in numbers of
fin whales in the area. Although high, the estimated rates of increase are
not out of bounds of biological plausibility and can thus be viewed as
recovery of a depleted population. However, the apparent pattern of
population growth and the whaling history in the area indicate that fin
whales made a significant recovery during the first half of the 20th
century and that the recent observed high growth rates cannot be explained
solely by recovery after overexploitation.

reprints (as pdf files) are available by requests to

gisli at hafro.is

Gísli A. Víkingsson
Marine Research Institute

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