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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 192:295-304 (2000)  -  doi:10.3354/meps192295

Migratory destinations of humpback whales that feed off California, Oregon and Washington

John Calambokidis1,*, Gretchen H. Steiger1, Kristin Rasmussen1, Jorge Urbán R.2, Kenneth C. Balcomb3, Paloma Ladrón de Guevara P.4, Mario Salinas Z.4, Jeff K. Jacobsen5, C. Scott Baker6,**, Louis M. Herman6, Salvatore Cerchio7,***, James D. Darling8

1Cascadia Research Collective, Waterstreet Building, 218 1/2 West Fourth Avenue, Olympia, Washington 98501, USA
2Departamento de Biología Marina, Universidad Autónoma de Baja California Sur, Apt. Post 19-B, B.C.S. 23081, Mexico
3Center for Whale Research, 1359 Smuggler's Cove Road, Friday Harbor, Washington 98250, USA
4Laboratorio de Mamiferos Marinos, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Apt. Post 70-572, México City, D.F. 04510, Mexico
5PO Box 4492, Arcata, California 95521, USA
6Kewalo Basin Marine Mammal Laboratory, University of Hawaii, 1129 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu, Hawaii 96814, USA
7Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, PO Box 450, Moss Landing, California 95039, USA
8West Coast Whale Research Foundation, 1200-925 West Georgia Street, Vancouver, British Columbia V6C 5K6, Canada
Present addresses:
**School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland, New Zealand
***Univ. of Michigan, 1109 Geddes Avenue, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109, USA

ABSTRACT: The migratory destinations of humpback whales that feed off California, Oregon and Washington were determined using photo-identification. Fluke photographs of 594 individuals were taken between 1981 and 1992 and compared to collections from 9 wintering regions in the North Pacific: Ogasawara (162) and Okinawa (17) islands of Japan; the Big Island and Maui (634 for both) and Kauai (384) of Hawaii; the Revillagigedo Archipelago (450), the mainland coast (383) and Baja Peninsula (471) of Mexico; and Central America (31). A total of 160 matches were found to 6 central and eastern North Pacific wintering regions, with most from Central America, Baja, and mainland Mexico. Of whales identified off Central America, 84% were resighted off California-Washington; this high rate of interchange suggests that whales in these tropical waters appear to be comprised entirely of animals from the California-Washington feeding aggregation. Humpback whales seen off Central America were resighted disproportionately off southern California while those from mainland Mexico tended to be seen off northern California-Washington. From 157 same-season migratory transits documented, the shortest were 29 d to Baja and 56 d to Costa Rica and the longest distance was 5322 km. Of the California-Washington whales with known sex, the proportion of males identified at a wintering region was significantly higher than females (2.2:1, p <\ 0.05).

KEY WORDS: Humpback whales · Migration · Photo-identification · North Pacific

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