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Endangered Species Research

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ESR 26:235-241 (2015)  -  DOI:

Long-term individual sighting history database: an effective tool to monitor satellite tag effects on cetaceans

D. Gendron1,*, I. Martinez Serrano2, A. Ugalde de la Cruz1, J. Calambokidis3, B. Mate4

1Centro Interdisciplinario de Ciencias Marinas, Instituto Politécnico Nacional, La Paz, Baja California Sur CP 23096, Mexico
2Museo de Zoología, Facultad de Biología, Universidad Veracruzana, Xalapa, Veracruz CP 91000, Mexico
3Cascadia Research, 218½ W 4th Ave, Olympia, Washington 98501, USA
4Marine Mammal Institute, Oregon State University, Hatfield Marine Science Center, Newport, Oregon 97365, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: During the last 3 decades, tagging technology has been used to study different aspects of cetacean ecology. Tags implanted in animal’s blubber, muscle and surrounding tissue have produced successful results, providing information on long-term movements. However, apart from the reports of ‘divots’ (depressions) and swelling at the tag sites in re-sighted large whales, little has been published about the long-term effects of tagging. Based on sighting history databases of photo-identified blue whales, we monitored the wound site of a satellite tag on an adult female blue whale over a period of 16 yr (1995 to 2011). This report describes the swelling reaction to a broken subdermal attachment from a tag designed early in the evolution of large whale tagging. The tag attachment remained embedded for a decade (much longer than expected), and may have affected the female’s reproductive success during this period. The whale’s calving history showed a total of 3 calves; 2 were prior to, and one ocurred after, the swelling period (1999 to 2007). We demonstrate the value of long-term monitoring programs in evaluating tag impacts, especially on endangered species.

KEY WORDS: Satellite tag · Long-term effect · Monitoring · Calving interval · Blue whale

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Cite this article as: Gendron D, Martinez Serrano I, Ugalde de la Cruz A, Calambokidis J, Mate B (2015) Long-term individual sighting history database: an effective tool to monitor satellite tag effects on cetaceans. Endang Species Res 26:235-241.

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