2010 10 16- New satellite positions of Brazil-tagged whales Print E-mail
Written by Andrew Stevenson   


"The latest tagging effort: Alex Zerbini and colleagues have recently tagged a number of humpback whales in their breeding grounds at Abrolhos Bank in Brazil.  This is an interesting group because until Alex started tagging them some years ago, we had no real idea which feeding area they migrated to.  Turns out (he's captured a number of complete migrations now) they all seem to go to the South Sandwich Islands, that little arc of islands to the right of the text at the bottom of the attached image. 


"They DON'T go to South Georgia (the larger island at bottom center, right above the text); this is somewhat surprising, since South Georgia once hosted vast numbers of whales, and was the site for the beginning of modern Southern Ocean whaling in 1904.  Today, humpbacks are rarely found there.  Whether this is because they have lost all memory of the existence of this habitat, or something else, we don't know (whaling did a very good job of eliminating almost every last whale from this region).  South Sandwich was too inhospitable a location to support whaling, so it was never targeted in any significant way; so perhaps the whales that go there are the descendants of a sub-group that survived the intense exploitation at South Georgia (as well as whaling in Brazil itself).


"We're showing the 10-day track of a humpback with the nicely palindromic tag number of 87778; there are several other tags transmitting, but at this point this is the only whale that is well into its migration south

- the others are mostly still messing around on the continental shelf."


Dr Phil Clapham


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