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Volume 43 - Number 3 - 2008

Southern right whales, Eubalaena australis (Desmoulins, 1822) off Chile: analyses of records from 1976 to 2008

Anelio Aguayo-Lobo1, Jorge Acevedo2, José Luis Brito3, Carlos Olavarría2, Rodrigo Moraga4 y Carlos Olave2


1Instituto Antártico Chileno. Plaza Muñoz Gamero 1055, Punta Arenas, Chile
2Fundación Centro de Estudios del Cuaternario Fuego-Patagonia y Antártica. Avda. Bulnes 01890, Punta Arenas, Chile
3Museo Municipal de Ciencias Naturales y Arqueología de San Antonio. Salvador Sanfuentes 2365, Barrancas, San Antonio, Chile
4Centro de Investigación Eutropia. Ahumada 131 Of. 912, Santiago, Chile



Sighting data of Eubalaena australis from Chilean waters from 1964 to 2008 were analyzed. During these 44 years, 124 sightings of 232 whales were recorded, including 39 calves. Whales were sighted in three main areas: i) north of 47°S, ii) Magellan Strait and Beagle channel, and iii) Drake Passage and Antarctica. A higher frequency of sightings occured between August and October. Most of calves were recorded north of 41°S, being concentrated between 23°S and 25°S, and also between 32° and 36°S. Group sizes ranged from 1 to 7 whales, in the area north of 47°S pairs were more common, while for the two areas south of 47°S, whales were most commonly sighted singly. The population trend, considering only whales north of 47°S, showed an increase (although not statistically significant) between 1976 and 2008, but when only calves were considered, there was no increase, suggesting that both rates would be underestimated. We highlight the need for an increase in sighting effort for southern right whales as well the development of a systematic program for monitoring, photo-identification and molecular study. These measures would improve the demographic knowlegde and therefore provide a sound basis for evaluation of the status of this species, which is currently considered as `In Critical Risk' in Chilean waters


Key words: Sightings, distribution, reproduction, population trend, Chile




1Laboratorio de Zooplancton, Instituto de Ciencias del Mar y Limnología,Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. A. P. 70-305, 04510 México, D. F. México
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