[MARMAM] New paper: Antarctic blue and fin whales off the South African west coast

Fannie Shabangu fannie.shabangu at yahoo.com
Tue Nov 20 18:45:55 PST 2018

Dear MARMAM Community

On behalf of my co-authors, I am pleased to announce the publication of our new paper on Antarctic blue and fin whales:
Shabangu FW, Findlay KP, Yemane D, Stafford KM, van den Berg M, Blows B, Andrew RK (2018). Seasonal occurrence and diel calling behaviour of Antarctic blue whales and fin whales in relation to environmental conditions off the west coast of South Africa. Journal of Marine Systems, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jmarsys.2018.11.002
Passive acoustic monitoring was used to detect the sounds of rarely sighted Antarctic blue and fin whales to investigate their seasonal occurrence (as presence or absence of whale calls) and behaviour (as determined from call rates) in the Benguela ecosystem. Data were collected using autonomous acoustic recorders deployed on oceanographic moorings for 16.26 months off the west coast of South Africa in 2014 and 2015. Satellite derived environmental variables were used as predictors of whale acoustic occurrence and behaviour. Migratory Antarctic blue and  fin whales were acoustically present in South African waters between May and August with call occurrence peaks in July whereas some fin whales extended their presence to November. No whale calls were recorded in summer for either species, suggesting whales use the Benguela ecosystem as an overwintering ground and migration route. Antarctic blue whales produced both their characteristic Z-call and their feeding associated D-call. Fin whales produced calls characteristic of animals from the eastern Antarctic fin whale acoustic population. Random forest models identified environmental variables such as sea surface temperature anomaly, sea surface height, wind speed, months of the year, Ekman upwelling index and log-transformed chlorophyll-a as the most important predictors of call occurrence and call rates of blue and fin whales. Here we present the first acoustic recordings of Antarctic blue and fin whales in the Benguela ecosystem, and provide preliminary information to investigate seasonal abundance and distribution of these large baleen whale populations. This work demonstrates the feasibility of cost-effectively monitoring Antarctic top-consumer baleen whales in the Benguela ecosystem.
The paper is available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0924796317304591?via%3Dihub
Alternatively e-mail me for a PDF copy, queries or comments: fannie.shabangu at yahoo.com
Best regardsFannie
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _Fannie W. Shabangu, PhDDepartment of Agriculture, Forestry & FisheriesCape Town, South AfricaE-mail: fannie.shabangu at yahoo.com; FannieS at daff.gov.zaMobile: +27 74 220 0210Tel: +27 21 402 3553  
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