HUMPBACK WHALES, CLIMATE CHANGE AND PREY AVAILABILITY
In the face of climate change and shifting prey availability, the aim of this project is to quantify the bioenergetic demands of humpback whale migration between Alaskan feeding- and Hawaiian breeding grounds.
In 2016, the distinct population segment (DPS) of humpback whales in Hawaii were delisted from the Endangered Species List. However, since then, sighting rates of humpback whales in Hawaiian and southeast Alaska have dropped (See article here). There is currently a lack of understanding of why humpback whale numbers have reduced. This project will contribute to efforts investigating the possible causes of this apparent decline including shifts in habitat use, changes to food availability linked to prey depletion and climate change.
Through collaborations, the aims of this project are to gain an understanding of:
intra-seasonal changes in body condition of humpback whales throughout the feeding and breeding seasons;
inter-annual variability in body condition of humpback whales;
potential factors contributing to the decline in observed sighting rates of humpback whales in Hawaii and Alaska.
- Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary (M. Lammers, E. Lyman)