Title

Migratory movements of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) between Eastern Australia and the Balleny Islands, Antarctica, confirmed by photo-identification

Document Type

Report

Publication details

Franklin, W, Franklin, T, Brooks, L, Gibbs, N, Childerhouse, S, Smith, F, Burns, D, Paton, D, Garrigue, C, Constantine, R, Poole, MM, Hauser, N, Donoghue, M, Russell, K, Mattila, DK, Robbins, J, Oosterman, A, Leaper, R, Baker, S & Clapham, P 2008, 'Migratory movements of humpback whales (Megaptera Novaeangliae) between Eastern Australia and the Balleny Islands, Antarctica, confirmed by photo-identification, report presented to the International Whaling Commission Scientific Committee, SC/60/SH2, (unpublished report). This report is an update of SC/59/SH18.

Abstract

We report here migratory movements of three humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) between Eastern Australia (E1 breeding grounds) and the Area V Antarctic feeding area in the vicinity of the Balleny Islands. Using photo-identification techniques, comparisons between a Balleny Island fluke catalogue (n = 11 individuals), and existing fluke catalogues from Eastern Australia (n = 3120 individuals) and Oceania (n = 725 individuals), yielded three matches to Hervey Bay, Byron Bay and Ballina in Eastern Australia and no matches to Oceania. The Eastern Australia catalogue (n = 3120) was made up of Hervey Bay (n = 1556), Byron Bay, (n = 916) and Ballina (n = 648). The Oceania catalogue (n = 725) is made up of Tonga (n = 282); New Caledonia (n = 160); French Polynesia (n = 159); New Zealand (n = 41); Cook Islands (n = 36); American Samoa (n = 31); Vanuatu, Niue, Samoa and Fiji (n = 11) and Norfolk Island (n = 5). Only three previous individual photo-identification matches have been reported between Eastern Australia (E1 breeding area) and Antarctic Area V feeding grounds and one genotype match has been reported between Antarctic Area V feeding grounds and Oceania breeding grounds. An analysis of the frequencies of whales seen and not seen in the Balleny Islands, Oceania and Eastern Australia, relative to the expected frequencies, based on the estimated population sizes and the sizes of the catalogues was used to inform a discussion of the implications of the matches between the Balleny Islands and Eastern Australia and the failure to find any matches between the Balleny Islands and Oceania. Based on the available information the evidence reported here supports the hypothesis that the migratory destination of the Area V humpback whales feeding around the Balleny Islands in Antarctica may be Eastern Australia.

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