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Endangered Species Research

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ESR 14:235-242 (2011)  -  DOI:

Recaptures of genotyped bowhead whales Balaena mysticetus in eastern Canada and West Greenland

Ø. Wiig1,*, M. P. Heide-Jørgensen2, C. Lindqvist3, K. L. Laidre2,4, L. D. Postma5, L. Dueck5, P. J. Palsbøll6,7, L. Bachmann

1National Centre for Biosystematics, Natural History Museum, University of Oslo, PO Box 1172 Blindern, 0318 Oslo, Norway
2Greenland Institute of Natural Resources, Box 570, 3900 Nuuk, Greenland
3Department of Biological Sciences, University at Buffalo (SUNY), Buffalo, New York 14260, USA
4Polar Science Center, Applied Physics Laboratory, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98105, USA
5Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Central and Arctic Region, 501 University Crescent, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3T 2N6, Canada
6Department of Genetics, Microbiology and Toxicology, Stockholm University, 10691 Stockholm, Sweden
7Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, 16 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA

ABSTRACT: Multi-locus genotype and sex were used to identify individual bowhead whales Balaena mysticetus from 710 samples collected between 1995 and 2010 at 4 localities in eastern Canada (Foxe Basin, Pelly Bay, Repulse Bay, and Cumberland Sound) and at 1 locality in West Greenland (Disko Bay). In total, 29 recaptures of the same individuals were identified between years, of which 26 individuals were recaptured within the same locality. The remaining 3 were recaptured between sampling localities, from 2 putative International Whaling Commission (IWC) stocks: the Hudson Bay−Foxe Basin stock and the Baffin Bay−Davis Strait stock. These recaptures agree with satellite tracking results that demonstrate movement between IWC stocks and question whether these stocks are true biological entities. The intervals between capture and recapture of females in Disko Bay ranged from 1 to 8 yr. The observed number of multi-year recaptures compared to the expected numbers of recaptures did not indicate any clear cyclicity in the use of Disko Bay consistent with the notion that the migration pattern of females to this area might be tied to their reproductive cycles. A mark−recapture estimate of whales identified in 2010 compared to all identifications between 2000 and 2009 resulted in an estimate of 1410 bowhead whales (SE = 320, 95% CI: 783−2038) constituting the spring aggregation in Disko Bay. The estimate for the female portion of the aggregation was 999 individuals (SE = 231, 95% CI: 546−1452). The multi-year cycle of appearance in Disko Bay emphasizes the necessity for identifying whales over multiple years for inclusion in mark−recapture estimation.

KEY WORDS: Bowhead whale · Balaena mysticetus · Genotyping · Recapture · Stock structure · Abundance · Mark–recapture

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Cite this article as: Wiig Ø, Heide-Jørgensen MP, Lindqvist C, Laidre KL and others (2011) Recaptures of genotyped bowhead whales Balaena mysticetus in eastern Canada and West Greenland. Endang Species Res 14:235-242.

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