[MARMAM] New paper on long-term bowhead whale movements and behaviour by age and sex

Fortune, Sarah Sarah.Fortune at dfo-mpo.gc.ca
Mon Oct 5 10:38:49 PDT 2020

Dear colleagues,

Our paper entitled "Age- and sex-specific movement, behaviour and habitat-use patterns of bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus) in the Eastern Canadian Arctic" has recently been published in Polar Biology and we're happy to share a copy upon request.



As an annual ice-associated species, bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus) are known to move northward in mid-to-late March and southward in early winter while following the annual cycle of sea ice decay and formation. We sought to determine when and where different demographic groups of Eastern Canada-West Greenland bowhead whales foraged throughout their range and what seasonal patterns occurred in their migratory and residency behaviour over a 16-year time period (2001-2016). Fifty-nine bowhead whales were equipped with satellite telemetry tags and hierarchical switching-state-space models (HSSSM) were used to infer probable foraging and travelling behaviour. Overall, 18,294 locations were predicted with the HSSSM and 70% of the locations (n?=?12,784) were associated with probable foraging behaviour and 15% (n?=?2709) included movements consistent with travelling behaviour. Both males and females were found to reside in Hudson Strait during winter. Females showed a slight preference for more northern regions (e.g. Gulf of Boothia) for feeding during summer compared with males who appeared to spend more time in more southern foraging grounds (e.g. Cumberland Sound). Females in Gulf of Boothia were significantly larger than females in Cumberland Sound but males were of comparable sizes in both regions. Lancaster Sound had the lowest occupancy, representing less than 0.8% of all HSSSM locations (n?=?154) suggesting that this area may not be preferred by subadult male or female bowhead whales. Understanding whale movement behaviour will assist in anticipating patterns in distribution shifts associated with warming.

All the best,


Sarah Fortune, PhD (she, her, hers)
Weston Family Northern Scientist
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Sarah.Fortune at dfo-mpo.ca<mailto:Sarah.Fortune at dfo-mpo.ca>

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