ESR 32:515-524 (2017)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00832

Mid-summer abundance estimates of fin whales Balaenoptera physalus around the South Orkney Islands and Elephant Island

Sacha Viquerat, Helena Herr*

Institute for Terrestrial and Aquatic Wildlife Research, University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Foundation, 25761 Büsum, Germany
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: A line-transect distance sampling survey for fin whales Balaenoptera physalus was conducted around Elephant Island and the South Orkney Islands on board a CCAMLR fishing survey for fin fish in January and February 2016. Collected data were used for model-based abundance estimates of fin whales in 2 strata. The minimum average (± SE) density of fin whales was estimated at 0.0268 ± 0.0183 ind. km-2 in a 19750 km2 area around Elephant Island, resulting in a minimum abundance estimate of 528 ± 362 fin whales. In a 13550 km2 area around the South Orkney Islands, we estimated a minimum density of 0.0588 ± 0.0381 ind. km-2 and a minimum abundance of 796 ± 516 ind. The results of this study confirm a westerly extension of a recently described high-density area for fin whales in the West Antarctic Peninsula region. In the light of increasing krill fisheries in the local region, we suggest this area for further studies to assess the potential for conflict between recovering whale populations and emerging industrial interests.


KEY WORDS: West Antarctic Peninsula · Southern Ocean · Population status · Baleen whales


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Cite this article as: Viquerat S, Herr H (2017) Mid-summer abundance estimates of fin whales Balaenoptera physalus around the South Orkney Islands and Elephant Island. Endang Species Res 32:515-524. https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00832

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