Satellite-monitored movements of humpback whales Megaptera novaeangliae in the Southwest Atlantic Ocean
Marine Ecology Progress Series
Southern Hemisphere humpback whales Megaptera novaeangliae migrate from wintering grounds in tropical latitudes to feeding areas in the Antarctic Ocean. It has been hypothesized that the population wintering off eastern South America migrates to feeding grounds near the Antarctic Peninsula (ca. 65°S, 60°W) and/or South Georgia (54°20' S, 36°40' W), but direct evidence to support this has never been presented. Between 19 and 28 October 2003, 11 humpback whales (7 females and 4 males) were
... ented with satellite transmitters off Brazil (ca. 18°30' S, 39°30' W) to investigate their movements and migratory destinations. Mean tracking time for the whales was 39.6 d (range = 5 to 205 d) and mean distance travelled was 1673 km per whale (range = 60 to 7258 km). Movements on the wintering ground showed marked individual variation. Departure dates from the Brazilian coast ranged from late October to late December. Whales migrated south through oceanic waters at an average heading of 170°and travelled a relatively direct, linear path from wintering to feeding grounds. Two whales were tracked to feeding grounds in offshore areas near South Georgia and in the South Sandwich Islands (58°S, 26°W) after a 40 to 60 d long migration. Historical catches and current sighting information support these migratory routes and destinations. This study is the first to describe the movements of humpback whales in the western South Atlantic Ocean.