[MARMAM] New publication on the impact assessment of historical whaling in the southwestern Atlantic Ocean

Morgana Vighi morgana.vighi at gmail.com
Thu Dec 10 09:45:21 PST 2020

Dear MARMAM community,

on behalf of my co authors, I am pleased to share with you the publication
on *ICES Journal of Marine Science* of our recent research:

The missing whales: relevance of “struck and lost” rates for the impact
assessment of historical whaling in the southwestern Atlantic Ocean
Morgana Vighi, Asunción Borrell, Jennifer A Jackson, Emma L Carroll, Maria
Grazia Pennino, Alex Aguilar

The massive impact that open-boat historical whaling (18th to 20th
centuries) had on whale populations has been traditionally estimated from
records of oil and baleen plate production. However, an unknown proportion
of hunted whales were struck, wounded, eventually killed, but lost, and not
included in these records, suggesting that whaling impact may be critically
underestimated. Whaling logbooks provide a key source for assessing past
catches and losses. Here, we extract detailed records of 19875 days of
activity in the southwestern Atlantic Ocean from 255 logbooks of offshore
whaling voyages. During the period considered (1776–1923), whalers first
targeted southern right whales (Eubalaena australis, 2497 sightings and 658
catches), gradually substituted by sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus,
1157 sightings and 843 catches) after 1840. Loss rate factors, calculated
to account for the number of “struck and lost” whales, decreased across
time for both species, and were particularly high (ranging 1.09–1.6) for
the southern right whale, whose population was drastically reduced by
whaling, as compared to previous estimates based on rough catch records.
Accurate accounting for these “lost” individuals is essential for
reconstructing the impact of whaling on cetacean populations and for a
proper assessment of their initial population size and demographic trends.

The article is open access and freely available online at
Don't hesitate to contact me for any questions or curiosities regarding our

All the best,


Morgana Vighi, PhD

+34 633656763
+39 3388269806
skype: morgana.vighi
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