[MARMAM] New paper: Abundance and distribution of Antarctic blue whales Balaenoptera musculus intermedia off the Queen Maud Land coast of Antarctica

Els Vermeulen elsvermeulen5 at gmail.com
Sun Feb 28 22:45:52 PST 2021

Dear colleagues,

On behalf of all the co-authors, we are happy to inform you on the
publication of our new article "*Abundance and distribution of Antarctic
blue whales Balaenoptera musculus intermedia off the Queen Maud Land coast
of Antarctica*"

The Antarctic blue whale *Balaenoptera musculus intermedia* was hunted to
near extinction in the twentieth century. Current data on the abundance and
distribution of the species are lacking owing to the difficulty and expense
of surveys under adverse weather conditions in open-ocean habitats, and to
the small population size. The most recently accepted global abundance
estimate, based on the middle survey (1997/1998) of three circumpolar
Antarctic surveys conducted between 1991/1992 and 2003/2004, was less than
1% of the original pre-whaling population size. The present study used a
visual line-transect survey off the Queen Maud Land coast of Antarctica, in
an area between 0° and 18° E and south of 67° S, in January 2014, to
estimate the abundance of Antarctic blue whales in this area.
Effort-accounted densities of sightings averaged 13.3 individuals per 1 000
nautical miles of survey effort (CV = 0.26) and reinforce recent findings
that the area has significantly higher densities than averaged in
circumpolar surveys (0.17–1.48 per 1 000 nautical miles). Distance sampling
resulted in a population density estimate of 0.019 whales nautical-mile−2
(CV = 0.24) and an estimated abundance of 1 026 Antarctic blue whales (CV =
0.20, 95% CI 632–1 450) in the surveyed area. Obtaining such current
estimates of abundance is crucial for assessment of the conservation status
of the Antarctic blue whale population and for monitoring its recovery.

The article can be obtained from
Or upon request to els.vermeulen at up.ac.za.

Kind regards
Dr Els Vermeulen - Research Manager
Mammal Research Institute Whale Unit
Department of Zoology and Entomology
University of Pretoria, South Africa
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