[MARMAM] New publication: UK seas act as migratory stopover/alternative destination for humpback whales

Emily Cunningham emily at emilycunningham.co.uk
Fri Aug 9 06:56:02 PDT 2019

Dear MARMAM colleagues,

We are pleased to announce our new open access publication:

O'Neil, K.E., Cunningham, E.G. and Moore, D.M., 2019. Sudden seasonal
occurrence of humpback whales *Megaptera novaeangliae* in the Firth of
Forth, Scotland and first confirmed movement between high-latitude feeding
grounds and United Kingdom waters. *Marine Biodiversity Records*, 12(12).

Plain English Summary
In this publication, we report on the first confirmed record of a
UK-sighted humpback whale in their Arctic feeding grounds
(Svalbard-Scotland) and suggest that UK seas act as a migratory stopover or
alternative destination for eastern North Atlantic humpback whales on their
southbound migration. With all data collected by volunteer whale watchers,
our new publication is a strong example of the power of citizen science and
of science-community collaboration.

Here we report on the sudden seasonal occurrence of humpback whales *Megaptera
novaeangliae* within the Firth of Forth, Scotland, UK over the winter
months of 2017 and 2018. Sightings and photographs collected by citizen
scientists of the Forth Marine Mammal Project were inspected and a fluke
photograph compared to existing catalogues from all known feeding and
breeding grounds across the North Atlantic. No matches to breeding grounds
were found but a fluke match to a non-catalogued individual in Svalbard
(Norway) constitutes the first confirmed movement of a UK-recorded humpback
whale from high-latitude feeding grounds. A different individual was
photographed in the Firth of Forth in both 2017 and 2018, providing
evidence of a whale returning to the Firth of Forth in consecutive years.
Despite year-round observation, the discrete seasonality of sightings
suggests that the Firth of Forth may represent a migratory stopover or
alternative destination for humpback whales on their southbound migration.
Overall, these findings constitute a formalised baseline of information
regarding the occurrence of humpback whales in the Firth of Forth and
contribute to our understanding of the migration habits of humpback whales
in the eastern North Atlantic.

The open access article can be found at the following link:

A plain English summary (for popular science audiences) can be found at:

All questions to me at emily at emilycunningham.co.uk

Best wishes,


*Emily Cunningham*
Marine Conservation Research & Consultancy
England, UK
LinkedIn <https://www.linkedin.com/in/emilygcunningham/> | Twitter
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