[MARMAM] New assessment of Western South Atlantic humpback whales

Alex Zerbini - NOAA Affiliate alex.zerbini at noaa.gov
Wed Oct 16 11:24:19 PDT 2019

Dear Marmamers,

On behalf of my co-authors, I am pleased to announce the publication of a
new assessment of the conservation status of western South Atlantic
humpback whales. The abstract is provided below.

The paper can be read/downloaded here:

Thank you for your interest and best wishes, Alex

Assessing the recovery of an Antarctic predator from historical
A.N. Zerbini, G. Adams, J. Best, P.J. Clapham, J.A. Jackson and A.E. Punt

The recovery of whale populations from centuries of exploitation will have
important management and ecological implications due to greater exposure to
anthropogenic activities and increasing prey consumption. Here, a Bayesian
population model integrates catch data, estimates of abundance, and
information on genetics and biology to assess the recovery of western South
Atlantic (WSA) humpback whales (*Megaptera novaeangliae*). Modelling
scenarios evaluated the sensitivity of model outputs resulting from the use
of different data, different model assumptions and uncertainty in catch
allocation and in accounting for whales killed but not landed. A long
period of exploitation drove WSA humpback whales to the brink of
extinction. They declined from nearly 27 000 (95% PI = 22 800–33 000)
individuals in 1830 to only 450 (95% PI = 200–1400) whales in the
mid-1950s. Protection led to a strong recovery and the current population
is estimated to be at 93% (95% PI = 73–100%) of its pre-exploitation size.
The recovery of WSA humpback whales may result in large removals of their
primary prey, the Antarctic krill (*Euphausia superba*), and has the
potential to modify the community structure in their feeding grounds.
Continued monitoring is needed to understand how these whales will respond
to modern threats and to climate-driven changes to their habitats.

Alexandre N Zerbini, Ph.D.
Marine Mammal Laboratory
Alaska Fisheries Science Center
7600 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, WA, 98115-6349, USA
Phone: (206) 526.4511 <(206)%20526-4511>
Email: alex.zerbini at noaa.gov

Cascadia Research Collective
218 1/2 W 4th Ave
Olympia, WA, 98501, USA

Marine Ecology and Telemetry Research
2468 Camp McKenzie Tr NW
Seabeck, WA 98380
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