[MARMAM] New Publication: Body condition changes arising from natural factors and fishing gear entanglements in North Atlantic right whales (Eubalaena glacialis)

Heather Pettis hpettis at neaq.org
Tue Mar 28 13:32:03 PDT 2017

Dear colleagues,

My co-authors and I are pleased to announce the publication of the following article:

Pettis, H. M., Rolland, R. M., Hamilton, P. K., Knowlton, A. R., Burgess, E. A., & Kraus, S. D. (2017) Body condition changes arising from natural factors and fishing gear entanglements in North Atlantic right whales Eubalaena glacialis. Endangered Species Research, 32, 237-249.

ABSTRACT: Body condition has been correlated with survival and reproductive success in both terrestrial and marine mammals, including North Atlantic right whales Eubalaena glacialis. We used photographs of individually identified right whales to assess visual changes in body condition in reproductive females, adult males, juveniles, and entangled whales. Images from sightings of individual whales were grouped sequentially by habitat region, and each group of images was assigned a body condition score of good, fair, or poor based on the dorsal profile posterior to the blowholes. Temporally consecutive groups of images (n = 1496) of 340 individual whales were compared to investigate the frequency, direction, and minimum timeframe between changes in body condition. Changes in body condition scores of right whales were significantly influenced by group category. Lactating females and severely entangled right whales were more likely to exhibit declining body condition than other groups. Resting females were significantly more likely to improve in condition than other groups but exhibited the longest timeframe for improving condition. Young juveniles were less likely to improve in condition compared to adult males, but remained in compromised condition less frequently than older juveniles and adult males. The shortest timeframes between changing body condition scores were 11 d for declining condition and 12 d for improving condition. This study demonstrates that photographic analysis can detect rapid body condition changes and identifies groups of right whales that are particularly vulnerable to declining condition and delayed recovery from energetically taxing events.

The publication is open access and available at https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00800

Kind regards,
Heather Pettis

Heather Pettis
Associate Scientist
Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life
New England Aquarium
Central Wharf
Boston, MA 02110

[Anderson Cabot logo]

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