[MARMAM] Body shape of right whales - Open Access Publication

Carolyn A. Miller cmiller at whoi.edu
Tue Jul 31 07:16:27 PDT 2012

Dear colleagues,

We are pleased to announce the recent publication of the following paper 
on body shape of free-swimming right whales.
The paper is available online and Open Access from:


Carolyn A. Miller, Peter B. Best, Wayne L. Perryman, Mark F. 
Baumgartner, Michael J. Moore. 2012
*Body shape changes associated with reproductive status, nutritive 
condition and growth in right whales /Eubalaena glacialis /and /E. 
Marine Ecology Progress Series 459:135-156 - doi:10.3354/meps09675**

**Mammalian reproduction is metabolically regulated; therefore, the 
endangered status and high variability in reproduction of North Atlantic 
right whales /Eubalaena glacialis/ necessitate accurate assessments at 
sea of the nutritional condition of living individuals. Aerial 
photogrammetry was used to measure dorsal body width at multiple 
locations along the bodies of free-swimming right whales at different 
stages of the female reproductive cycle (/E. glacialis/) and during the 
initial months of lactation (mother and calf /Eubalaena australis/) to 
quantify changes in nutritional condition during energetically demanding 
events. Principal components analyses indicated that body width was most 
variable at 60% of the body length from the snout. Thoracic, abdominal 
and caudal body width of /E. australis/ thinned significantly during the 
initial months of lactation, especially at 60% of body length from the 
snout, while their calves' widths and width-to-length ratios increased. 
The body shape of /E. glacialis/ that had been lactating for 8 mo was 
significantly thinner than non-lactating, non-pregnant /E. glacialis/. 
Body shape of /E. glacialis/ measured in the eighth month of lactation 
was significantly thinner than that of /E. australis/ in the first 
month, but did not differ from that of /E. australis/ in the third and 
fourth months. Body width was comparable with diameter calculated from 
girth of carcasses. These results indicate that mother right whales rely 
on endogenous nutrient reserves to support the considerable energy 
expenditure during the initial months of lactation; therefore, 
photogrammetric measurements of body width, particularly at 60% of body 
length from the snout, are an effective way to quantitatively and 
remotely assess nutritional condition of living right whales.

Kind regards,
Carolyn A. Miller**

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