[MARMAM] New publication on Hawaiian humpback whale calves

Maren Anderson mare.anders at gmail.com
Tue Mar 25 11:14:00 PDT 2014

On behalf of the authors, I am happy to announce a new publication that is
now available online in Aquatic Mammals on Hawaiian Humpback whales (*Megaptera
novaeangliae*), detailing the effects of sex, seasonal period, and sea
state on calf behavior:

Zoidis A.M., Lomac-MacNair K.S., Chomos-Betz A.E., Day A.J., and
McFarland A.S.  (2014). Effects of sex, seasonal period, and sea state
on calf behavior in Hawaiian Humpback whales (*Megaptera
novaeangliae*). Aquatic Mammals, 40(1), 44-58.

ABSTRACT: Ontogeny of behavior in young humpback whale (*Megaptera
novaeangliae*) calves likely reflects preparation for adulthood, including
courtship and reproductive activities, predator avoidance, and prey
capture. Reproductive strategies differ for males and females, with males
competing aggressively for females, while females focus their energy on
raising calves; thus, certain behaviors may develop differently in each
sex. In addition to these forces driving behavioral development, ambient
conditions, such as Beaufort sea state, may also impact behaviors by
requiring adaptations to different environments, some of which are louder
or more energetic. Herein, we examine the roles of sex, seasonal period,
and sea state on Hawaiian humpback whale calf behavioral development. We
used underwater video recordings to document when calves were (1) at the
surface without their mothers, (2) in physical contact with or in close
proximity to (within 5 m) of their mothers, (3) playing, (4) milling, (5)
interacting with divers, or (6) vocalizing (social sounds). We analyzed
foot- age of 199 groups (1,485.5 min) in which a calf was present using
linear mixed effects models. Sex of the calf was determined in 107 groups
(64 females, 43 males). Results indicate that males played or were surface
active significantly more often than females, and that calves were at the
surface with- out their mothers significantly more often during January and
February than March, and significantly more during the end of January than
the beginning of February, indicating that spatial proximity to the mother
varies. There were no significant findings characterized by sea state
though trends were evident. Behavioral differences by calf sex may be
attributable to differences by sex in adult social roles--that is, males may
need a higher level of fitness and ability to compete for access to
females. Greater mother/calf separation midseason may drive development of
motor skills, independence, and fitness in preparation for migration


KEY WORDS: Behavior · Calf · Humpback whale · *Megaptera novaeangliae*·
Ontogeny · Underwater

A pdf of this manuscript can be downloaded from the Aquatic Mammals
website: DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1578/AM.40.1.2014.44 or requests for
reprints can be sent to either: Ann Zoidis ann at cetosresearch.org or Kate
Lomac MacNair at klomacmacnair at gmail.com




Maren Anderson

Staff Scientist /Marine Biologist

Cetos Research Organization
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