[MARMAM] New paper on humpback whale abundance and krill consumption in the Scotia Arc

Mick Baines mickbaines at gmail.com
Fri Oct 15 01:51:26 PDT 2021

Dear MARMAM community,

Together with my co-authors, we are pleased to announce the publication of
our paper in *Marine Ecology Progress Series*:

Mick Baines, Natalie Kelly, Maren Reichelt, Claire Lacey, Simon Pinder,
Sophie Fielding, Eugene Murphy, Phil Trathan, Martin Biuw, Ulf Lindstrøm,
Bjørn A. Krafft and Jennifer A. Jackson (2021)

*Population abundance of recovering humpback whales Megaptera novaeangliae
and other baleen whales in the Scotia Arc, South Atlantic.*

Following the cessation of whaling, South Atlantic populations of
humpback (*Megaptera
novaeangliae*) and some other baleen whale species are recovering, but
there has been limited monitoring of their recovery in the Scotia Arc, a
former whaling epicentre and a hotspot for Antarctic krill (*Euphausia
superba*). To inform the management of krill fisheries, up to date
assessment of whale biomass and prey consumption is essential. Using a
model-based approach, we provide the first estimates of whale abundance and
krill consumption for South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, and
total abundance of humpback whales across their southwest Atlantic feeding
grounds, using data collected in 2019. Humpback whale abundance was
estimated at 24,543 (CV = 0.26; 95% CI 14,863 – 40,528), similar to that
measured in Brazil on the main wintering ground for this population. The
abundance of baleen whales in South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands,
including those not identified to species level, was estimated at 43,824
(CV = 0.15; 95% CI 33,509 – 59,077). Based on the proportion of humpback
whales identified during the surveys (83%), the majority of these are
likely to be humpback whales. Annual krill consumption by baleen whales was
estimated to be in the range 4.8 – 7.2 million tons, representing 7 - 10%
of the estimated krill biomass in the region. However, there is a need to
better understand feeding rates in baleen whales, and further research into
this field should be a priority in order to improve the accuracy and
precision of prey consumption rate estimation.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13849

If you are unable to access the paper through the DOI, please contact me
for a pdf at mickbaines at gmail.com

Mick Baines
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