sail-world.com
 
 
News Home Cruising Photo Gallery Video Gallery

 

Sail-World.com : Why Right Whales linger in the Gulf of Maine

Why Right Whales linger in the Gulf of Maine

'A sei whale photographed in the Great South Channel between Nantucket and Georges Bank. Pronounced 'say,' this whale gets its name from the Norwegian word for pollack because both the fish and the whales typically appear in Norwegian waters around the same time each year. Sei whales can grow up to 60 feet long, so most above-water photographs like this are of only a part of the body, in this case, the dorsal fin. (Amalia Aruda, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)'    Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) ©

As they might with most endangered animals, scientists consider the whereabouts and activities of right whales extremely important.

'It is helpful to know where they go, why they go there and what they do when they’re there,' says Mark F. Baumgartner of the biology department at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI).

Baumgartner and his colleagues studied the behavior of right whales and sei whales—both endangered species of baleen whales—in the waters of the Gulf of Maine to the east of Nantucket. They found that the location, the length of stay, and perhaps the very abundance of the whales may be dependent on an interesting vertical migration pattern by the copepods on which the whales feed. It seems to be a case, he said, of 'how the behavior of the prey influences the behavior of the whales.'

The algae-eating copepod, Calanus finmarchicus, appears to migrate up and down in the water column to avoid being eaten by predators such as herring and sand lance. Since these fish need to see their prey in order to feed, copepods often remain at depths where sunlight will not penetrate during the daytime. Under cover of night, they leave this deep, dark refuge, swim to the surface, and feed on algae in relative safety.

In turn, this pattern, the scientists report in a recent issue of the journal Marine Ecology Progress Series, has a 'dramatic impact' on the behavior and whereabouts of the whales. They found that right whales, which are capable of feeding at depths of 450 to 600 feet below the surface, continued to stay in the area and feed on copepods deep in the water column during the day. The sei whales, on the other hand, were 'significantly less abundant' when the copepods displayed vertical migration. Unlike the right whales, the sei whales probably cannot feed at depth during the day, so they may leave the area in search of better feeding conditions elsewhere.

For reasons not well understood, the critically endangered right whale is vulnerable to being hit by ships while at the surface. Baumgartner points out that nighttime may prove particularly dangerous for right whales as they feed on copepods that have migrated to the surface, yet captains piloting ships in the dark have no way to see and avoid the whales.

'Our study also helps us understand why right whales stick around in this area, from about mid April to mid June,' Baumgartner said. Because of their ability to feed below the surface, 'they are able to out-compete the herring' for food, he said.

A North Atlantic right whale head, with blowholes and roughened patches of skin called callosities clearly visible on the top of the head. Callosities can also be seen on the side of the head; these are actually at the margin of the whale’s lower lip, which covers most of the side of the whale’s head. (Mark Baumgartner’s lab, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution) -  Woods Hole Oceanographic?nid=83215 Institution (WHOI) ©  

It had been thought that the recovery of herring stocks in the last decade might further threaten the right whale by depleting its food supply, Baumgartner said. But these latest observations—along with a rise in the North Atlantic right whale population from roughly 300 to 400 since 1999—suggest that herring recovery does not threaten the right whale population, he said.

At the same time, the herring and sand lance, by inducing the copepods’ vertical migration behavior, 'are likely influencing the distribution and abundance of sei whales' in that area, the researchers report. However, since the sei whale population numbers in the thousands, Baumgartner said their tendency to go elsewhere to look for food is not as great a concern as it would be for the right whale.

'The good news is that the recovery of herring stocks is not going to be a problem for the right whale population,' Baumgartner said. 'The bad news is that if the right whales are feeding at the surface at night, they are at greater risk for ship strikes than we had thought earlier.'

The study was conducted during the spring seasons of 2005, 2006 and 2007.

Baumgartner was joined in the study by Nadine S.J. Lysiak of WHOI and researchers from UMass Boston and the NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center in Woods Hole.

Funding was provided by NOAA, the Office of Naval Research, the WHOI Ocean Life Institute, and the WHOI John E. and Anne W. Sawyer Endowed Fund.

An image of Calanus finmarchicus, the species of tiny crustacean that practices vertical migration and is preferred by North Atlantic right whales. Although small, these crustacean are high in fat content, making them a very nutritious meal. Scientists estimate a right whale must eat 1-2 billion of these crustaceans every day. (Mark Baumgartner, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution) -  Woods Hole Oceanographic?nid=83215 Institution (WHOI) ©  

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is a private, independent organization in Falmouth, Mass., dedicated to marine research, engineering, and higher education. Established in 1930 on a recommendation from the National Academy of Sciences, its primary mission is to understand the ocean and its interaction with the Earth as a whole, and to communicate a basic understanding of the ocean's role in the changing global environment.

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution website




by WHOI

  

Click on the FB Like link to post this story to your FB wall

http://www.sail-world.com/index.cfm?nid=83215

10:19 AM Fri 6 May 2011 GMT






Click here for printer friendly version
Click here to send us feedback or comments about this story.


News - USA and the World





ISAF Sailing Worlds, Santander - Strong competition for RS:X fleets by Olga Maslivets, International RS:X Class Assoc.,






































470 Men and Women Worlds - Game on for Olympic Qualification by 470 International Association Class,












A complete recap of the most successful Melges 20 World Championship by International Audi Melges 20 Class Association,




ISAF Santander - Upwards path for Austrian women's 470 crew + video by Luissa Smith, International 470 Class Association,








PWA Cold Hawaii World Cup - Marcilio Browne wins Super Session
470 Men and Women World Championships - Racing abandoned on day 2
ISAF Sailing World Championships - Day 4 images from Santander
ISAF Sailing Worlds, Santander: Emerging Nations Program sailors shine
ISAF Sailing Worlds, Santander - Teasing winds play havoc on day 4
ISAF Sailing World Championships: Hot conditions in Santander on day 4
Santander ISAF Sailing World Championships joins Bart’s Bash
PWA Cold Hawaii World Cup - Grounded fishing boat creates problems
Marseille One Design - GC32 Armin Strom Sailing Team emerge victorious
Rolex Big Boat Series 2014 - Ready for another 50 years
2014 Rolex Big Boat Series - Farr 40 Day 4
2014 Rolex Swan Cup - Eleventh-hour victories
Extreme Sailing Series - Kiwis clinch Act win in Istanbul + Video
2014 Rolex Big Boat Series - Two long races today for the J70 fleet
2014 Rolex Big Boat Series - Impressive to sail out of the Golden Gate
Extreme Sailing Series - Istanbul delivers four days of great racing
ISAF Sailing Worlds Santander - Day 3 images by Sail-World.com
Extreme Sailing Series: Emirates Team NZ bounces back for series win
Santander 2014 ISAF Worlds - Light winds and current test six classes
ISAF Sailing World Championships - Solid Day 3 for US Sailing Team
ISAF Sailing World Championships - Day 3 images by Jesus Renedo   
Marseille One Design 2014 - GC32 Armin Strom blitzes final day   
Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 - Una Etapa 0 complicada para todos   
Santander 49ers: Olympic Gold Medallist says two into 90 does not go!! *Feature   
GBR aiming for first ever Nacra 17 Games berth at Santander Worlds   
Volvo Ocean Race: Man and sail overboard as Leg 0 serves up drama   
ISAF Sailing World Championships Santander 2014 – Images by Dan Ibsen   
Santander Worlds – already a spectator success   
ISAF Sailing World Championships Santander 2014 - Day 3 morning report   
Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 - Tales from the extreme   
Volvo Ocean Race: Latest starter wins opening race   
2014 J/70 World Championship - Healy, Abdullah, Becker and Borges win   
2014 Rolex Big Boat Series - Full-blown, once again   
ISAF Worlds - Americans jump up Laser and Laser Radial leaderboard   
2014 Rolex Big Boat Series - Farr 40 Day 3   
ISAF Sailing World Championships - Day 2 images from Sail-World.com   
America's Cup: Luna Rossa sailing with two foiling AC45's + Video   
Extreme Sailing: Emirates Team NZ retain second overall   
ISAF Sailing Worlds, Santander - Rio Olympic Laser spots snapped up   
Rolex Swan Cup - All set for final showdown   


For this week's complete news stories select    Last 7 Days
   Search All News
For last month's complete news stories select    Last 30 Days
   Archive News







Sail-World.com  


















Switch Default Region to:

Social Media

Asia

Australia

Canada

Europe

New Zealand

United Kingdom


http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/Twitter_logo_small.png http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/FaceBook-icon.png  http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/RSS-Icon.png

United States

Cruising Northern

Cruising Southern

MarineBusiness World

PowerBoat World

FishingBoating World

 

Contact

Commercial

News

Search

Contact Us

Advertisers Information

Submit news/events

Search Stories/Text

Feedback

Advertisers Directory

Newsletter Archive

Photo Gallery

 

Banner Advertising Details

Newsletter Subscribe

Video Gallery

Policies

 

 

 

Privacy Policy

 

 


Cookie Policy

 

 



This site and its contents are © Copyright TetraMedia and/or the original author, photographer etc. All Rights Reserved.  Photographs are copyright by law.  If you wish to use or buy a photograph contact the photographer directly.
XLXL WAS US
LocalAds   DE  ES  FR  IT