Remote Antarctic feeding ground important for east Australian humpback whales


Rochelle Constantine, University of Auckland
Debbie Steel, Oregon State University
Judy Allen, College of the Atlantic
Megan Anderson, Southern Cross University
Olive Andrews, Whales Alive, Byron Bay
C Scott Baker, University of Auckland
Peta Beeman, Southern Cross UniversityFollow
Daniel Burns, Southern Cross UniversityFollow
Jean-Benoit Charrassin, Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle
Simon Childerhouse, Australian Marine Mammal Centre
Michael Double, Australian Marine Mammal Centre
Paul Ensor
Patricia Franklin, Southern Cross UniversityFollow
Wally Franklin, Southern Cross University
Nick Gales, Australian Marine Mammal Centre
Claire Garrigue, Opération Cétacés, Noumea
Nadine Gibbs, Department of Conservation, Wellington
Peter Lynton Harrison, Southern Cross UniversityFollow
Nan Hauser, Cook Islands Whale Research
Amanada Hutsel, Pacific Whale Foundation, Wailuku
Curt Jenner, Centre for Whale Research, WA
Michekine-Nicole Jenner, Centre for Whale Research, WA
Greg Kaufman, Pacific Whale Foundation, Wailuku
Anne Macie, Pacific Whale Foundation, Wailuku
David Mattila, Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary
Carlos Olvarria, Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary
Adrian Oosterman, Norfolk Island Whale Survey
David Paton, Blue Planet Marine
Michael Poole, Marine Mammal Research Program
Jooke Robbins, Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies
Natalie Schmitt, Australian Antarctic Division, Australian Marine Mammal Centre
Peter Stevick, Antarctic Humpback Whale Catalogue
Alden Tagarino, Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources
Kristen Thompson, University of Auckland
Juney Ward, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Government of Samoa

Document Type


Publication details

Constantine, R, Steel, D, Allen, J, Anderson, M, Andrews, O, Baker, CS, Beeman, P, Burns, D, Charrassin, JB, Childerhouse, S, Double, M, Ensor, P, Franklin, T, Franklin, W, Gales, N, Garrigue, C, Gibbs, N, Harrison, P, Hauser, N, Hutsel, A, Jenner, C, Jenner, MN, Kaufman, G, Macie, A, Mattila, D, Olavarría, C, Oosterman, A, Paton, D, Poole, M, Robbins, J, Schmitt, N, Stevick, P, Tagarino, A, Thompson, K & Ward J 2014, 'Remote Antarctic feeding ground important for east Australian humpback whales', Marine Biology, vol.161, no. 5, pp. 1087-1093.

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Peer Reviewed



Understanding the dynamics of population recovery is particularly complex when an organism has multiple, remote breeding and feeding grounds separated by one of the longest known migration routes. This study reports on the most comprehensive assessment of humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) movements between remote Antarctic waters south of New Zealand and east Australia (EA), and the migratory corridors and breeding grounds of Australia and Oceania. A total of 112 individual whales were identified; 57 from microsatellites and 61 by fluke with 23 % (n = 26) matched to sites outside Antarctica. Despite large datasets from other southern regions being included in the comparison, the whales were predominantly linked to EA (n = 24). Only two matches to the Oceania catalogues directly north was surprising; therefore the primary feeding grounds of these endangered whales still remain unknown. The confirmation of the Balleny Islands as an important feeding ground for EA whales could provide an insight into reasons behind the rapid recovery of this population. Determining the feeding grounds of Oceania’s whales may explain whether prey energetics or migration length are limiting factors to their recovery and will allow an understanding of future ecosystem changes in these whales.

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