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Endangered Species Research

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ESR 21:55-64 (2013)  -  DOI:

Evidence of a North Atlantic right whale Eubalaena glacialis mating ground

Timothy V. N. Cole1,*, Philip Hamilton2, Allison Glass Henry1, Peter Duley1, Richard M. Pace III1, Bradley N. White3, Tim Frasier4

1NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center, 166 Water Street, Woods Hole, Massachusetts 02543, USA
2Edgerton Research Laboratory, New England Aquarium, Central Wharf, Boston, Massachusetts 02110, USA
3Department of Biology, Trent University, 2140 East Bank Drive, Peterborough, Ontario K8J 7B8, Canada
4Department of Biology, Saint Mary?s University, 923 Robie Street, Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 3C3, Canada

ABSTRACT: The location of mating grounds used by Endangered North Atlantic right whales Eubalaena glacialis has eluded discovery despite centuries of whaling and decades of marine mammal surveys. If this species’ gestation duration is similar to the closely related southern right whale E. australis, then conception for the North Atlantic right whale occurs in the boreal winter. Between 2002 and 2008, aerial surveys identified half the North Atlantic population in the central Gulf of Maine between November and January. Generalized linear models indicated that significantly higher proportions of both known fathers and conceptive females were present in this region compared to most other areas seasonally inhabited by right whales. Their presence in the central Gulf of Maine during the estimated conception period strongly suggests that this region is a mating ground for the species. Roseway Basin, on the southwestern Scotian Shelf, also had high proportions of reproductive whales and may be the site of some conceptions if right whale gestation extends to 14 mo.

KEY WORDS: Aerial surveys · Conception period · Gulf of Maine · Mating ground · Photo identification · Right whale

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Cite this article as: Cole TVN, Hamilton P, Henry AG, Duley P, Pace RM III, White BN, Frasier T (2013) Evidence of a North Atlantic right whale Eubalaena glacialis mating ground. Endang Species Res 21:55-64.

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