[MARMAM] Return of large fin whale feeding aggregations to historical whaling grounds in the Southern Ocean

Herr, Dr. Helena helena.herr at uni-hamburg.de
Tue Jul 12 05:22:24 PDT 2022

Dear all,

I am pleased to share with you our recent publication in Scientific Reports:

Herr, H., Viquerat, S., Devas, F., Lees, A., Wells, L., Gregory, B., Giffords, T., Beecham, D., & Meyer, B. (2022, Jul 7). Return of large fin whale feeding aggregations to historical whaling grounds in the Southern Ocean. Sci Rep, 12(1), 9458. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-13798-7

For the Abstract, please see below. The publication is open access and available for download at: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-022-13798-7.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch! … and make sure to watch the videos in the Online Supplement!

All the best,


Fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus quoyi) of the Southern Hemisphere were brought to near extinction by twentieth century industrial whaling. For decades, they had all but disappeared from previously highly frequented feeding grounds in Antarctic waters. Our dedicated surveys now confirm their return to ancestral feeding grounds, gathering at the Antarctic Peninsula in large aggregations to feed. We report on the results of an abundance survey and present the first scientific documentation of large fin whale feeding aggregations at Elephant Island, Antarctica, including the first ever video documentation. We interpret high densities, re-establishment of historical behaviours and the return to ancestral feeding grounds as signs for a recovering population. Recovery of a large whale population has the potential to augment primary productivity at their feeding grounds through the effects of nutrient recycling, known as 'the whale pump'. The recovery of fin whales in that area could thus restore ecosystem functions crucial for atmospheric carbon regulation in the world's most important ocean region for the uptake of anthropogenic CO2.

Dr. Helena Herr

Institute of Marine Ecosystem and Fishery Science (IMF)
Center for Earth System Research and Sustainability (CEN)
University of Hamburg
Große Elbstraße 133
22767 Hamburg, Germany

Tel +49 (0)40 42838 6677
Email helena.herr at uni-hamburg.de<mailto:helena.herr at uni-hamburg.de>

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