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CONSERVATION BIOLOGY OF GRAY WHALES ON THEIR BREEDING GROUNDS

This collaborative project aims to better understand the behavior and bioenergetics of gray whales on their breeding ground in San Ignacio Lagoon, Mexico. The results will aid management agencies in developing conservation strategies to protect whales in important breeding and resting habitats.

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Background Information

 

Baleen whales around the world face a number of anthropogenic threats (e.g. ship strikes, net entanglements, anthropogenic noise, human induced climate change), which might impede the rate of recovery from the whaling era. The purpose of this research project is to improve our understanding of the baseline ecology and behavior of gray whales on their breeding and calving grounds in San Ignacio lagoon, Mexico. With such data, our goal is to gain an understanding of how human activities (e.g., boating, acoustic stimuli, whale-watching) influence these baseline behavioral patterns, including suckling rates of neonate calves.

 

AIMS

The aims of this project are to gain an understanding of:

 

  • the fine scale behavior, movement and habitat-use of gray whales in San Ignacio lagoon;

  • whether acoustic or mechanical cues between mothers and calves mediate suckling in neonate gray whales;

  • the suckling rates of gray whale calves and how suckling rates might be affected by human activities;

  • intra-seasonal changes in body condition of grey whale mother and calves through the breeding season;

  • the growth rates (length and volume) of calves in relation to rate of loss in body condition of their mothers;

  • the relationship between female body condition and the body condition of their offspring.

 

research team

Lars Bejder - MMRP

Fredrik Christiansen - AMRU

Fabien Vivier - MMRP

Steven Swartz - Laguna San Ignacio Ecosystem Science Program

Jorge Urban R - Laguna San Ignacio Ecosystem Science Program

Sergio Martinez - Laguna San Ignacio Ecosystem Science Program

Pernille Soerensen - Aarhus University

Aude Pacini - MMRP

 

PROJECT BLOGS