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