Short Communication

Observations of individual humpback whales utilising multiple migratory destinations in the south-western Indian Ocean

  • PJ Ersts
  • C Pomilla
  • J Kiszka
  • S Cerchio
  • HC Rosenbaum
  • M Vély
  • Y Razafindrakoto
  • JA Loo
  • MS Leslie
  • M Avolio

Abstract

Movements of humpback whales Megaptera novaeangliae  among breeding regions within the southwestern Indian Ocean are poorly understood. Understanding the relationships among breeding regions is critical for effective  conservation and management strategies. Through systematic comparisons of molecular genotypes and both systematic and non-systematic comparisons of individual identification photographs collected between 1996 and 2006, we have  thus far identified nine whales (six males and three females) utilising two breeding areas within this region: the northern Mozambique Channel and eastern Madagascar. Four of the nine whales were recaptured using only photographic data, two whales were independently recaptured using both photographic and genetic data, and three whales were recaptured exclusively using molecular methods. The discovery of these nine individuals provides much-needed data to guide the formulation and future revision of stock boundaries.

Keywords: conservation, genetics, Indian Ocean sanctuary, mark-recapture, Megaptera novaeangliae, microsatellite, migration, photo-identification

African Journal of Marine Science 2011, 33(2): 333–338

Author Biographies

PJ Ersts
Center for Biodiversity and Conservation, American Museum of Natural History, Central Park West at 79th Street, New York, NY 10024, USA
C Pomilla
Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics, American Museum of Natural History, Central Park West at 79th Street, New York, NY 10024, USA; Department of Biology, New York University, 1009 Silver Center, 100 Washington Square East, New York, NY 10003-6688, USA
J Kiszka
Observatoire des Mammifères Marins, Office National de la Chasse et de la Faune Sauvage and Direction de l’Agriculture et de la Forêt, BP 103, F-97600 Mamoudzou, Mayotte (France); University of La Rochelle. LIENSS (Littoral, Environnement et Sociétés), UMR 6250 CNRS-Université de La Rochelle, 2, rue Olympes de Gouges, 17071 La Rochelle, France
S Cerchio
Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics, American Museum of Natural History, Central Park West at 79th Street, New York, NY 10024, USA; Wildlife Conservation Society, Ocean Giants Program, 2300 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, NY 10460-1099, USA
HC Rosenbaum
Center for Biodiversity and Conservation, American Museum of Natural History, Central Park West at 79th Street, New York, NY 10024, USA; Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics, American Museum of Natural History, Central Park West at 79th Street, New York, NY 10024, USA; Wildlife Conservation Society, Ocean Giants Program, 2300 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, NY 10460-1099, USA
M Vély
Association MEGAPTERA, 23 rue Alexandre Dumas, 75011 Paris, France; current address: Michel Vély, Route Royale, Tamarin, Mauritius
Y Razafindrakoto
Wildlife Conservation Society, Madagascar Country Program, BP 8500, 101 Antananarivo, Madagascar
JA Loo
Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics, American Museum of Natural History, Central Park West at 79th Street, New York, NY 10024, USA; Department of Biology, New York University, 1009 Silver Center, 100 Washington Square East, New York, NY 10003-6688, USA
MS Leslie
Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics, American Museum of Natural History, Central Park West at 79th Street, New York, NY 10024, USA
M Avolio
Barnard College, Columbia University, 3009 Broadway, New York, NY 10027, USA; current address: Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Yale University, 165 Prospect Street, New Haven, CT 06511, USA
Section
Articles

Journal Identifiers


eISSN: 1814-2338
print ISSN: 1814-232X