First Satellite-Tracked Long-Distance Movement of a Sei Whale (Balaenoptera borealis) in the North Atlantic

Abstract: Long-distance migration for most species of baleen whales is poorly understood because of the practical difficulties and substantial expense involved in gathering relevant data. Presently, satellite tracking is the only method that delivers the necessary detail and quantitative data on movement patterns on far-ranging marine mammals. In this study, ARGOS satellite tags were deployed on North Atlantic sei whales (Balaenoptera borealis) at the Azores Islands. Data from one whale showed a cumulative 4,102-km movement from tagging at Faial Island in the Azores on 12 April 2005 via the Charlie Gibbs Fracture Zone (CGFZ) to the Labrador Sea where transmissions stopped on 7 June 2005. For a portion of the distance from CGFZ to the Labrador Sea, the whale moved in the prevailing direction of the surface current pattern. Erratic movement in five areas along the movement track indicates feeding behaviour, particularly in the CGFZ. The results show the large-scale movement potential of North Atlantic sei whales from wintering grounds to highly productive potential feeding areas in the Labrador Sea.

Key Words: sei whale, Balaenoptera borealis, satellite tracking, multidisciplinary, migration, currents, Regional Oceanic Modelling System, ROMS

Document Type: Research article

DOI: 10.1578/AM.35.3.2009.313

Page Numbers: 313-318

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