[MARMAM] How do singing whales tell us where they come from?

Elena Schall elena.schall at awi.de
Fri Aug 19 01:17:54 PDT 2022

*How do singing whales tell us where they come from?*

We are pleased to announce our new paper in Scientific Reports which 
answers this question ;):

*Song recordings suggest feeding ground sharing in Southern Hemisphere 
humpback whales*
Elena Schall, Divna Djokic, Erin C. Ross-Marsh, Javier Oña, Judith 
Denkinger, Julio Ernesto Baumgarten, Linilson Rodrigues Padovese, Marcos 
R. Rossi-Santos, Maria Isabel Carvalho Goncalves, Renata Sousa-Lima, 
Rodrigo Hucke-Gaete, Simon Elwen, Susannah Buchan, Tess Gridley, lse Van 

The Atlantic sector of the Southern Ocean (ASSO) has one of the highest 
densities of Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba) compared to other polar 
and subpolar regions, which attracts migratory baleen whale species to 
aggregate in this area for feeding. Humpback whales (Megaptera 
novaeangliae) also sing extensively while on the Southern Ocean feeding 
grounds which allows for the exploration of song similarity between 
feeding grounds and breeding populations which helps to understand 
population mixing. The results of comparative song analyses between the 
ASSO and the Ecuadorian and Brazilian breeding populations and 
recordings from the Chilean, South African and Namibian migration 
routes/mid‑latitude feeding grounds revealed that individuals from at 
least three humpback whale breeding populations most likely migrate to 
shared feeding grounds in the ASSO. Humpback whales from different 
populations potentially mix at different times (i.e., years) at feeding 
hotspots in variable locations. The ASSO seems to provide sufficient 
prey resources and seems to present an important area for both cultural 
and maybe even genetic exchange between populations supporting the 
maintenance of large gene pools. Assuming that multi‑population feeding 
hotspots are also suitable habitat for krill and other krill‑dependent 
predators, these areas in the ASSO should be carefully managed 
integrating population, ecosystem and fisheries management.

The paper is available with open access under the following link:


Best regards,

Elena Schall

Dr. Elena Schall
Ocean Acoustics Lab
Alfred Wegener Institute
Helmholtz Centre for Polar
and Marine Research

Klußmannstr. 3d
27570 Bremerhaven
email:elena.schall at awi.de
Phone: +49(471)4831-2157
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