[MARMAM] NEW PAPER: The most southerly occurrence of humpback whales in the western Weddell Sea

Angus Henderson afhender at gmail.com
Mon Jun 26 15:30:20 PDT 2023


NEW PAPER: The most southerly occurrence of humpback whales in the western
Weddell Sea

Available free here: https://doi.org/10.1111/mms.13033

Globally, warming oceans are causing marine species to shift poleward
(Melbourne-Thomas et al., 2022
<https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/mms.13033#mms13033-bib-0036>).
The Antarctic Peninsula is a global hotspot for human-induced warming
(Jones et al., 2019
<https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/mms.13033#mms13033-bib-0030>;
Turner et al., 2020
<https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/mms.13033#mms13033-bib-0051>),
evidenced by lessening sea ice conditions (Kumar et al., 2021
<https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/mms.13033#mms13033-bib-0034>),
warming oceans, and the collapse of ice shelves (Etourneau et al., 2019
<https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/mms.13033#mms13033-bib-0020>).
Here,
we detail two new record-breaking sightings of humpback whales in the
western WS. Both sightings were made from ice-breaker class tourist
vessels, which were able to access southerly regions of the western WS
during a summer with a new record low in sea ice extent (February 23, 2022;
Raphael & Handcock, 2022
<https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/mms.13033#mms13033-bib-0043>)
and the now regular breakup of the Larsen A & B ice shelves (Wang et al.,
2022
<https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/mms.13033#mms13033-bib-0052>). The
novel humpback whale sightings were made on December 8 at 1230 UTC (ship's
position: 64.83°S, 59.15°W) and on January 26 at 0944 UTC (ship's position:
65.31°S, 58.98°W) 30 and 90 nmi (56 and 167 km) further south than any
previously reported humpback whale sighting in the western WS (Figure 1
<https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/mms.13033#mms13033-fig-0001>).
Humpback
whales respond to dynamic environmental features (Thiele et al., 2004
<https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/mms.13033#mms13033-bib-0050>)
which likely drive preferred prey aggregations (Herr et al., 2016
<https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/mms.13033#mms13033-bib-0026>;
Santora et al., 2010
<https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/mms.13033#mms13033-bib-0047>)
and thus will likely be able to continue to respond to new extremes in sea
ice conditions like the more regular opening of the western WS (Jena et
al., 2022
<https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/mms.13033#mms13033-bib-0029>).
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