[MARMAM] New paper on N Pacific right whales

Phillip Clapham - NOAA Federal phillip.clapham at noaa.gov
Tue Jul 21 13:49:51 PDT 2015

The following was just published:

Zerbini, A.N., Baumgartner, M.F., Kennedy, A.S., Rone, B.K., Wade, P.R. &
Clapham, P.J.  2015.  Space use patterns of the endangered North Pacific
right whale *Eubalaena japonica *in the Bering Sea.  Marine Ecology
Progress Series doi: 10.3554/meps11366.

ABSTRACT: Understanding habitat use of critically endangered North Pacific
right whales (NPRWs, Eubalaena japonica) is important to better evaluate
the potential effects of anthropogenic activities and climate change on
this species. Satellite transmitters were deployed on individual right
whales in 2004, 2008 and 2009 to investigate whether their space-use
patterns in the Southeastern Bering Sea (SEBS) were influenced by
environmental conditions and to assess habitat use in areas of human
interest. Whales were monitored for an average of 40 d (range 29−58 d)
between July and October, a period in which they inhabited the SEBS shelf.
Individuals tagged in 2008−2009 (cold years) remained in the middle shelf
domain, travelled at a slower rate and showed a spatially more restricted
habitat use than a whale tagged in 2004 (a warm year). Monte Carlo tests
suggested that NPRWs associated with the cold pool (remnant winter water in
the bottom layer of the middle shelf domain) during cold years, which is
likely due to higher copepod abundance and reduced competition with other
copepod predators within the cold pool. Telemetry data indicated that a
Critical Habitat designated by the US National Marine Fisheries Service
encompasses the main feeding range of NPRWs in the Bering Sea. Two whales
briefly visited the North Aleutian Basin, an area previously considered for
oil and gas development. Small sample sizes precluded conclusive
comparisons of space-use patterns among years with significantly different
temperature regimes, but we hypothesize that habitat use in the SEBS varies
with these regimes because of concomitant changes in the abundance of the
whales primary copepod prey. Long-term evaluation of space-use patterns of
NPRWs is required to further understand their habits in the feeding grounds
in light of global warming and the potential for increased anthropogenic

This paper is available free through Open Access at this website:

Phillip J. Clapham, Ph.D.
Leader, Cetacean Assessment and Ecology Program
National Marine Mammal Laboratory
Alaska Fisheries Science Center
7600 Sand Point Way NE
Seattle, WA 98115, USA

tel 206 526 4037
fax 206 526 6615
email phillip.clapham at noaa.gov
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