[MARMAM] New publication on movements and behaviour of North Atlantic blue and fin whales during spring migration

Mónica Cordeiro de Almeida e Silva monica at uac.pt
Wed Oct 9 09:21:12 PDT 2013

Dear Colleagues,


The following paper entitled "North Atlantic Blue and Fin Whales Suspend Their Spring Migration to Forage in Middle Latitudes: Building up Energy Reserves for the Journey? "was recently published in PLOS ONE and is available online at http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0076507 <http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0076507> .


Kind regards,





Silva MA, Prieto R, Jonsen I, Baumgartner MF, Santos RS (2013) North Atlantic Blue and Fin Whales Suspend Their Spring Migration to Forage in Middle Latitudes: Building up Energy Reserves for the Journey? PLoS ONE 8(10): e76507. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0076507.



The need to balance energy reserves during migration is a critical factor for most long-distance migrants and an important

determinant of migratory strategies in birds, insects and land mammals. Large baleen whales migrate annually between

foraging and breeding sites, crossing vast ocean areas where food is seldom abundant. How whales respond to the

demands and constraints of such long migrations remains unknown. We applied a behaviour discriminating hierarchical

state-space model to the satellite tracking data of 12 fin whales and 3 blue whales tagged off the Azores, to investigate their

movements, behaviour (transiting and area-restricted search, ARS) and daily activity cycles during the spring migration. Fin

and blue whales remained at middle latitudes for prolonged periods, spending most of their time there in ARS behaviour.

While near the Azores, fin whale ARS behaviour occurred within a restricted area, with a high degree of overlap among

whales. There were noticeable behavioural differences along the migratory pathway of fin whales tracked to higher

latitudes: ARS occurred only in the Azores and north of 56ºN, whereas in between these areas whales travelled at higher

overall speeds while maintaining a nearly direct trajectory. This suggests fin whales may alternate periods of active

migration with periods of extended use of specific habitats along the migratory route. ARS behaviour in blue whales

occurred over a much wider area as whales slowly progressed northwards. The tracks of these whales terminated still at

middle latitudes, before any behavioural switch was detected. Fin whales exhibited behavioural-specific diel rhythms in

swimming speed but these varied significantly between geographic areas, possibly due to differences in the day-night cycle

across areas. Finally, we show a link between fin whales seen in the Azores and those summering in eastern Greenlandwestern

Iceland along a migratory corridor located in central Atlantic waters.


Mónica Almeida e Silva

Post Doctoral Fellow


Centro do IMAR da Universidade dos Açores

Departamento de Oceanografia e Pescas

9901-862 Horta Portugal

Phone: (+351) 292200400

Direct phone: (+351) 292200430

Fax: (+351) 292200411

Email: monica at uac.pt <mailto:monica at uac.pt> 

http://www.whales.uac.pt/ <http://www.whales.uac.pt/> 

http://portulano.org/wkit/index.html <http://portulano.org/wkit/index.html> 


Biology Department, MS#33

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Woods Hole, MA 02543, USA

Email: msilva at whoi.edu


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