[MARMAM] humpback whale trap-feeding publication

Jared Towers jrtowers at gmail.com
Tue Nov 6 09:21:07 PST 2018

Dear colleagues,

Our article <https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/mms.12557>
describing a new humpback whale feeding behaviour was recently published in
Marine Mammal Science.

McMillan, C. J., Towers, J. R. and Hildering, J. (2018), The innovation and
diffusion of “trap‐feeding,” a novel humpback whale foraging strategy. Mar
Mam Sci. . doi:10.1111/mms.12557

“The innovation and diffusion of novel foraging strategies within a
population can increase the capacity of individuals to respond to shifts in
prey abundance and distribution. Since 2011, some humpback whales
(Megaptera novaeangliae) off northeastern Vancouver Island (NEVI), Canada,
have been documented using a new feeding strategy called “trap‐feeding.” We
provide the first description of this foraging innovation and explore the
ecological and social variables associated with its diffusion using
sightings data, video analysis, and logistic regression modeling. The
number of humpback whales confirmed to trap‐feed off NEVI increased from
two in 2011 to 16 in 2015. Neither the locations of trap‐feeding sessions
nor prey species consumed differed from those documented during
lunge‐feeding. However, preliminary results indicate that the schools of
fish consumed when individuals trap‐fed were smaller and more diffuse than
those consumed when whales lunge‐fed. Top‐ranked models predicting whether
an individual would be observed exhibiting trap‐feeding behavior included
the following parameters: average number of days per year that the
individual was seen off NEVI and proportion of the individual’s
associations that were with other trap‐feeders. These results suggest that
trap‐feeding may be a culturally transmitted foraging innovation that
provides an energetically efficient method of feeding on small, diffuse
prey patches.”

For advance copies please contact: christie at mersociety.org. For photos and
video please see:

      Sincerely,   Jared Towers
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