[MARMAM] New paper: Sympatric baleen whales in the Azores

Laura González lauragonzalez at uvigo.es
Tue Apr 12 13:25:46 PDT 2022

Dear MARMAM colleagues,

My co-authors and I are pleased to share with you our recently published
paper in Deep Sea Research Part I journal, *"**Alongside but separate:
Sympatric baleen whales choose different habitat conditions in São Miguel,
Azores"*. We compared habitat preferences of fin whales and sei whales in
the Azores using opportunistic whale watching data. The paper is freely
available until 31st of May in the following link:

Feel free to share :)

Abstract: Fin whales and sei whales are two migratory baleen whale species
sighted every year across the waters of the Azores. Improved understanding
of the ecological niche and habitat requirements of these baleen whales is
needed to identify persistent or predictable oceanographic events that may
set the time of their migration, as well as local or
ephemeral oceanographic features that may aggregate their prey in a
particular area. In dynamic environments such as the open ocean, mesoscale
and submesoscale features can become decisive to determine the
distributions of highly mobile species such as baleen whales. In this
study, we analyse the habitat preferences of fin whales and sei whales
around São Miguel Island (Azores) using environmental variables at
different temporal and spatial scales. For both species, model results
showed a clear influence of variables linked with primary production and
therefore, prey availability; as well as a noticeable preference for
oceanographically dynamic areas which directly affect distribution and
aggregation of prey. Those environmental choices may indicate different
levels of foraging habitat use for both species. Differences were found
between the species, highlighting preferences for colder waters in fin
whales and areas with stronger sea surface temperature gradients in sei
whales. Model results obtained for fin whales were similar with those
previously published for blue whales, suggesting that both species make
similar use of the waters around São Miguel, often foraging during the
migration across these waters. Results for sei whales, however, emphasize
dynamic variables, indicating that travelling may prevail over feeding
behaviour during their migration by the Azores.

Greetings from the Mid-Atlantic, wishing you all a great season at sea,


Laura González García


PhD. Marine Science, Technology and Management
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