Inter-Research > MEPS > v625 > p205-223  
MEPS
Marine Ecology Progress Series

via Mailchimp

MEPS 625:205-223 (2019)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13043

Foraging energetics and prey density requirements of western North Atlantic blue whales in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence, Canada

Marie Guilpin1,2,*, Véronique Lesage1, Ian McQuinn1, Jeremy A. Goldbogen3, Jean Potvin4, Tiphaine Jeanniard-du-Dot1, Thomas Doniol-Valcroze5, Robert Michaud6, Michel Moisan6, Gesche Winkler2

1Maurice Lamontagne Institute, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, 850 route de la Mer, Mont-Joli, QC G5H 3Z4, Canada
2Marine Science Institute, Quebec-Ocean—University of Quebec in Rimouski, 310 Allée des Ursulines, Rimouski, QC G5L 3A, Canada
3Department of Biology, Hopkins Marine Station, Stanford University, Pacific Grove, CA 93950, USA
4Department of Physics, Saint Louis University, 3450 Lindell Boulevard, Saint Louis, MO 63103, USA
5Pacific Biological Station, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, 3190 Hammond Bay Rd, Nanaimo, BC V9T 6N7, Canada
6Group of Research and Education on Marine Mammals, 108 de la Cale Sèche, Tadoussac, QC G0T 2A0, Canada
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Foraging efficiency (FE) is determined by the ratio of energy intake to energy expenditure and represents a metric for estimating the capacity to store energy. Blue whales Balaenoptera musculus rely mostly on stored energy reserves for reproduction. They feed almost exclusively on krill, which vary in density and abundance both spatially and temporally. We used 10 depth-velocity archival tags deployed on blue whales foraging in the St. Lawrence Estuary, Canada, to identify feeding events. We modeled krill densities required to equal or exceed energy expenditures and allow energy storage. During the daytime, blue whales generally dove deeper and performed fewer but longer feeding dives than at other times of the diel cycle (10 vs. 28 feeding dives h-1); however, they performed more lunges per dive during daytime (3 vs. 1 lunge dive-1), which resulted in a stable feeding rate around the clock. Only 11.7 and 5.5% of the Arctic and northern krill patches measured in situ contained densities allowing blue whales to achieve neutral energetic balance (FE = 1); less than 1.5% of patches allowed FE of ≥3. While FE leading to successful reproduction and adequate fitness is unknown, these results underscore the necessity for blue whales to seek the highest densities within patches to reach neutral balance or allow energy storage. These findings further our understanding of blue whale foraging ecology and habitat suitability, and may help predict the effects of climate and natural variability or of potential fisheries on krill densities and blue whale condition.


KEY WORDS: Blue whale · Balaenoptera musculus · Energetics · Foraging efficiency · Krill density · Prey requirements · Foraging


Full text in pdf format
Supplementary material 
Cite this article as: Guilpin M, Lesage V, McQuinn I, Goldbogen JA and others (2019) Foraging energetics and prey density requirements of western North Atlantic blue whales in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence, Canada. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 625:205-223. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13043

Export citation
Mail this link - Contents Mailing Lists - RSS
Facebook - - linkedIn