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ESR 10:107-121 (2010)  -  DOI:

Movements and habitat use of satellite-tagged false killer whales around the main Hawaiian Islands

Robin W. Baird1,*, Gregory S. Schorr1, Daniel L. Webster1, Daniel J. McSweeney2, M. Bradley Hanson3, Russel D. Andrews4

1Cascadia Research Collective, 2181⁄2 West 4th Avenue, Olympia, Washington 98501, USA
2Wild Whale Research Foundation, PO Box 139, Holualoa, Hawai‘i 96725, USA
3NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center, 2725 Montlake Boulevard East, Seattle, Washington 98112, USA
4School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, Alaska 99709, and Alaska SeaLife Center, 301 Railway Avenue, Seward, Alaska 99664, USA

ABSTRACT: There are 2 recognized stocks of false killer whales Pseudorca crassidens in the US Exclusive Economic Zone surrounding Hawai‘i, a small demographically isolated population around the main Hawaiian Islands and a larger offshore (‘pelagic’) population. Recent evidence suggests the insular population may have declined precipitously over the last 20 yr, and one possible contributing factor is interactions with offshore longline fisheries or other hook and line fisheries. To assess movements and habitat use, satellite tags were remotely deployed on individuals in 3 groups from the insular population and one from the offshore population. Although tagged off the leeward side of the island of Hawai‘i, individuals from the insular population regularly moved to the windward sides of the islands. Some insular individuals moved extensively and rapidly among islands, while other individuals remained associated with the island of Hawai‘i for extended periods before moving among the other islands. Comparisons of distances between tagged individuals indicated that individuals within groups disassociated and re-associated over periods of days, occasionally moving more than 100 km apart before re-associating. The offshore individual, tagged 123.8 km offshore, approached to within 62 km of land, inshore of the longline fishery exclusion boundary. The 3 insular groups moved a maximum of 83, 87 and 96 km offshore, respectively, indicating that the distance from shore cannot be used as a strict boundary between the populations, and that individuals from the insular population may overlap with the longline fishery. When combined with photo-identification the results suggest that boundaries between these 2 stocks should be revised.

KEY WORDS: Longline fishing · Population boundaries · Group dynamics · Habitat use

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Cite this article as: Baird RW, Schorr GS, Webster DL, McSweeney DJ, Hanson MB, Andrews RD (2010) Movements and habitat use of satellite-tagged false killer whales around the main Hawaiian Islands. Endang Species Res 10:107-121.

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