Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New wintering grounds for humpback whales discovered using sound

Date:
March 9, 2011
Source:
University of Hawaii at Manoa
Summary:
Researchers have made a remarkable new discovery regarding humpback whale wintering grounds. The primary breeding ground for the North Pacific was always thought to be the main Hawaiian Islands. However, a new study has shown that these grounds extend all the way throughout the Hawaiian Archipelago and into the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

A group of humpback whales found in Hawaiian waters.
Credit: HIHWNMS

Researchers have made a remarkable new discovery regarding humpback whale wintering grounds.

In the thick of whale season, researchers from Hawai'i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shed new light on the wintering grounds of the humpback whale. The primary breeding ground for the North Pacific was always thought to be the main Hawaiian Islands (MHI). However, a new study has shown that these grounds extend all the way throughout the Hawaiian Archipelago and into the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI), also known as Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (PMNM).

Humpback whales, an endangered species, were once on the brink of extinction due to commercial whaling practices of the last century. Today, thanks to international protection, their numbers have dramatically increased, resulting in a greater presence of these singing mammals during the winter months. Song is produced by male humpback whales during the winter breeding season. All males on a wintering ground sing roughly the same song any given year, but the song changes from year to year. No one is exactly sure why the whales sing but some researchers believe it could be a display to other males. Between 8,500 and 10,000 whales migrate to Hawai'i each winter; while the rest of the population can be found in places like Taiwan, the Philippines, the Mariana Islands, Baja California, Mexico, amongst other Pacific locations (Calambokidis et al. 2008).

Over the past three decades, population recovery has resulted in a steady increase in the number of whales and a geographic expansion of their distribution in the MHI. Until recently, however, no empirical evidence existed that this expansion included the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. This changed recently when scientists from HIMB and NOAA published their findings in the current issue of the journal Marine Ecology Progress Series, detailing the presence of humpback whale song in the Northwestern Hawaiian Archipelago. These researchers deployed instruments known as Ecological Acoustic Recorders (EARs) in both the NWHI and MHI to record the occurrence of humpback whale song, as an indicator of winter breeding activity. Humpback whale song was found to be prevalent throughout the NWHI and demonstrated trends very similar to those observed in the MHI.

Dr. Marc Lammers, a researcher at HIMB and the lead scientist of the project explains "these findings are exciting because they force us to re-evaluate what we know about humpback whale migration and the importance of the NWHI to the population." The results are also of particular relevance in light of recent suggestions that an undocumented wintering area for humpback whales exists somewhere in the central North Pacific. Dr. Lammers and his colleagues believe that the NWHI could be that area.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Hawaii at Manoa. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. MO Lammers, PI Fisher-Pool, WWL Au, CG Meyer, KB Wong, RE Brainard. Humpback whale Megaptera novaeangliae song reveals wintering activity in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 2011; 423: 261 DOI: 10.3354/meps08959

Cite This Page:

University of Hawaii at Manoa. "New wintering grounds for humpback whales discovered using sound." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 March 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110308172840.htm>.
University of Hawaii at Manoa. (2011, March 9). New wintering grounds for humpback whales discovered using sound. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110308172840.htm
University of Hawaii at Manoa. "New wintering grounds for humpback whales discovered using sound." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110308172840.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Boy Attacked by Shark in Florida

Boy Attacked by Shark in Florida

Reuters - US Online Video (July 24, 2014) An 8-year-old boy is bitten in the leg by a shark while vacationing at a Florida beach. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 24, 2014) The eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, mainly known for conflict and instability, is an unlikely place for the production of fine cheese. But a farm in the village of Masisi, in North Kivu is slowly transforming perceptions of the area. Known simply as Goma cheese, the Congolese version of Dutch gouda has gained popularity through out the region. Ciara Sutton reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dogs Appear To Become Jealous Of Owners' Attention

Dogs Appear To Become Jealous Of Owners' Attention

Newsy (July 23, 2014) A U.C. San Diego researcher says jealousy isn't just a human trait, and dogs aren't the best at sharing the attention of humans with other dogs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Professor Creates Site Revealing Where People's Cats Live

Professor Creates Site Revealing Where People's Cats Live

Newsy (July 23, 2014) ​It's called I Know Where Your Cat Lives, and you can keep hitting the "Random Cat" button to find more real cats all over the world. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile: iPhone Android Web
          Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins