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Rev. biol. mar. oceanogr. 50(2): 383-389

Research Note

 

Presence of fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus) in Mejillones Bay, a major seaport area in northern Chile

Aldo S. Pacheco1, Viviana K. Villegas2, José M. Riascos1 and Koen Van Waerebeek3

1Instituto de Ciencias Naturales Alexander von Humboldt, Universidad de Antofagasta, CENSOR Laboratory, Climate Change Ecology Group, Av. Universidad de Antofagasta 02800, Antofagasta, Chile
2Programa Doctorado en Ciencias Aplicadas Mención Sistema Marinos Costeros, Universidad de Antofagasta, Antofagasta, Chile
3Centro Peruano de Estudios Cetológicos (CEPEC), Peruvian Centre for Cetacean Research, Lima-20, Perú

E-mail: babuchapv@yahoo.comaldo.pacheco@uantof.cl

 

In this paper we report the apparently seasonal presence of fin whales in Mejillones Bay (23°S), in northern Chile. We compiled a total of 19 sightings representing 95 whales, including 2 mother-calf pairs, between July and October 2006-2014. We observed groups of 1-10 individuals (mean 5 ± 2.7 ind.) principally in nearshore waters, 30-1000 m off the southwestern tip of Mejillones Bay in austral winter/spring. Fin whales came close to, and potentially overlapped with, the main port access routes of large cargo vessels. Information from real-time monitoring of whale presence relayed to Port Authorities is suggested as to avoid collisions.

Key words: Balaenoptera physalus, neritic waters, upwelling center, seasonality

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