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Volume 41 - Number 1 - 2006

Site Fidelity of Humpback Whales ((Megaptera novaeangliae Borowski, 1781) to the Magellan Strait feeding ground

Jorge A. Acevedo1,2, Anelio Aguayo-Lobo1,3 y Luis A. Pastene4


1 Fundación Centro de Estudios del Cuaternario (CEQUA). Avda. Bulnes 01890, Punta Arenas, Chile
2 Magíster (c) Universidad de Magallanes-Universidad de Concepción
3 Instituto Antártico Chileno, Departamento Científico. Plaza Muñoz Gamero 1055, Punta Arenas, Chile
4 Institute of Cetacean Research, Toyomi-cho 4-5, Chuo-Ku, Tokio, Japón



Humpback whales migrate annually between high latitude feeding grounds and low latitude breeding grounds, exhibiting a marked degree of fidelity to migratory destinations. Southeastern Pacific humpback whales migrate between the reproductive area located principally off Ecuador and Colombia and the feeding area located around the Antarctic Peninsula. Previous studies suggested a second feeding area for this population in the Magellan Strait. This study evaluates the site fidelity of humpback whales to the Magellan Strait feeding area using photo-identification data obtained during 10 sighting cruises carried out in three austral summer seasons (2002-2003 to 2004-2005). If the Magellan Strait is a second feeding area for some whales of this population, a high return rate of the same animals photo-identified to this area than by chance would be expected. The site fidelity of humpback whales in different austral summer seasons shown a high return rate (Mean=78.9%). Furthermore no significant differences were found in the return rate between female and males or between different class/age categories. Finally, the high return rate humpback whale, indicate that Magellan Strait is another feeding ground at least for a part of the Southeastern Pacific humpback whales population.


Key words: Cetacea, Southeast Pacific, photo-identification, 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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