Migratory Destinations of Humpback Whales that Feed off California, Oregon and Washington

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), 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 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).


Calambokidis, J., G.H. Steiger, K. Rasmussen, J. Urbán R., K.C. Balcomb, P. Ladrón de Guevara P., M. Salinas Z., J.K. Jacobsen, C.S. Baker, L.M. Herman, S. Cerchio, and J.D. Darling. 2000. Migratory Destinations of Humpback Whales that Feed off California, Oregon and Washington. Marine Ecology Progress Series 192: 295-304. doi: 10.3354/meps192295

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