[MARMAM] New publication: gull harassment of humpback whales off Western Australia

Kate Rose-Ann Sprogis kate.sprogis at bio.au.dk
Wed Sep 30 14:57:27 PDT 2020

Dear Colleagues,

We are pleased to announce the following paper published in Marine and Freshwater Research.

Title: Silver gull harassment of humpback whales in Exmouth Gulf, Western Australia.
Authors: Philippa Harkness and Kate R. Sprogis.

Summary:  We share observations of silver gulls (Chroicocephalus novaehollandiae) harassing humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) in Exmouth Gulf, Western Australia, between August and October in 2018 and 2019. Sixteen events were recorded of gulls pecking at the skin of 16 mothers and 2 calves resting on the surface. Data were collected opportunistically from a research vessel covering 5474.2 km (565 h). Events were documented through photographs and unmanned aerial vehicle video recordings and persisted for an average minimum time of 20.73 min (range 2.50–46.85 min). At least one event of a gull consistently gouging in a pre-existing lesion was recorded on a mother. Changes in behavioural activity from the whales, which varied from slipping under the surface to travelling and performing instantaneous behavioural events, were observed in 94% (15/16) of events. These are the first known records of birds attacking humpback whales. The results are comparable to early events of kelp gull (Larus dominicanus) harassment of southern right whales (Eubalaena australis) off Península Valdés, Argentina, where events have escalated over the past 50 years to consistent attacks on the whales’ skin and blubber. Future research is required to monitor the trajectory of these interactions to inform management.

Video supplementary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_xRBKYb6qA

Harkness P and Sprogis KR (2020) Gull harassment on humpback whales in Exmouth Gulf, Western Australia. Marine and Freshwater Research. doi: 10.1071/MF20129

The Online Early version can be downloaded online: https://www.publish.csiro.au/mf/MF20129, or if it cannot be accessed please email or request on Research Gate.

Best wishes,

Kate Sprogis
Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow
Marine Bioacoustics Lab,<https://marinebioacoustics.wordpress.com/people/kate-sprogis/> Dept. of Biology, Aarhus University, Denmark
kate.sprogis at bio.au.dk<mailto:kate.sprogis at bio.au.dk> | Kate Sprogis Photography<https://katesprogisphotography.wordpress.com/>
Twitter, Instagram: @KateSprogis

[cid:image001.jpg at 01D6976B.EC9A2C30]

Recent papers:
-          Sprogis KR, Bejder L, Hanf D, Christiansen F. 2020. Behavioural responses of migrating humpback whales to swim-with-whale activities in the Ningaloo Marine Park, Western Australia. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 522:151254. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jembe.2019.151254
-          Sprogis KR, Videsen S, Madsen PT. 2020. Vessel noise levels drive behavioural responses of humpback whales with implications for whale-watching. eLife 9:e56760. doi: 10.7554/eLife.56760<https://elifesciences.org/articles/56760>

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