Far-ranging fin whales find year-round residence in Gulf of California

phys.org | 1/10/2019 | Staff
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Researchers from Mexico and the United States have concluded that a population of fin whales in the rich Gulf of California ecosystem may live there year-round—an unusual circumstance for a whale species known to migrate across ocean basins.

What makes the discovery even more unusual, researchers note, is that they identified the pattern of movement of the fin whales, which are the second largest whale species in the world, using a satellite tracking data set from 2001. Oregon State University professor Bruce Mate, director of OSU's Marine Mammal Institute and co-author on the study, tagged 11 whales that year and was able to record the movements of nine of them for up to a year.

OSU - Scientists - Colleagues - Mexico - Whales

Since then, the OSU scientists have worked with colleagues in Mexico to further study the whales, in the process identifying via a 2011 photograph at least one female fin whale from the 2001 study—this time, with a calf, indicating the whales may even stay in the region for breeding and calving.

Results of the study are being published today in the journal PLOS ONE.

Reason - Data - Set - Whales - Region

"One reason we decided to go back to this data set is that we know very little about fin whales in this region," said Daniel Palacios, who holds the Endowed Faculty in Whale Habitats position at Oregon State's Marine Mammal Institute, and is co-author on the study. "It is fairly remote, it is not densely populated and it requires expensive technology to track whales over time."

"Researchers have known since at least the mid-1980s that fin whales inhabited the Gulf of California, but we just haven't been able to get much information about them. As it turns out, we had an important piece of the puzzle in the tracking data set we just hadn't yet fully analyzed."

Researchers - Conclusions

The researchers were able to reach several conclusions, based on...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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