[MARMAM] New publication: New Zealand blue whales: residency, morphology, and feeding behavior of a little-known population

Paula Olson - NOAA Affiliate paula.olson at noaa.gov
Tue Jan 12 16:40:59 PST 2016

Dear Colleagues,

My co-authors and I are pleased to announce the following publication on
blue whales in New Zealand waters:

Olson, P.A., Ensor, P., Olavarria, C., Bott, N., Constantine, R., Weir, J.,
Childerhouse, S., van der Linde, M., Schmitt, N., Miller, B.S., and Double,
M.C. 2015. New Zealand blue whales: residency, morphology, and feeding
behavior of a little-known population. Pacific Science (69)4: 477-485.


Blue whales are infrequently reported from New Zealand and their taxonomic
status is unclear. Here we present new information on the residency,
external morphology, and habitat use of blue whales encountered in New
Zealand waters. Thirty-one blue whales were photo-identified around the
North and South Islands of New Zealand from 2004-2014 in seven different
months of the year. One photographic match was found between June 2011 and
March 2013: the first evidence that an individual blue whale has remained
in or returned to New Zealand waters in different years and seasons.
Observations of the external morphology of blue whales encountered off the
South Island confirm that there is a shorter, non-Antarctic form of blue
whale occurring near New Zealand. Body length and proportion, head shape,
body condition and skin condition were similar to Australian but not
Antarctic blue whales. In 2013, feeding behavior was observed off the South
Island’s west coast and strong evidence of feeding was observed off the
east coast, the first reported occurrence of feeding for these locations.
Feeding behavior was also observed in the Hauraki Gulf in November 2010.
Feeding in these widely spread locations, in addition to the recently
reported foraging ground in the South Taranaki Bight, suggest that New
Zealand coastal waters are a feeding area for blue whales.

For information or requests please contact: Paula.Olson at noaa.gov

Warm regards,

Paula A. Olson
Marine Mammal Biologist
Visiting Scientist/Marine Mammal and Turtle Division
Southwest Fisheries Science Center/NMFS/NOAA
8901 La Jolla Shores Drive
La Jolla, California  92037 USA

Tel: 858-546-5616
Paula.Olson at noaa.gov
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