Population Size and Site Fidelity of North Atlantic Minke Whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata acutorostrata) off the Atlantic Coast of Nova Scotia, Canada

Abstract: The site fidelity of North Atlantic minke whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata acutorostrata) off the coast of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada (approximately 1,800 km2) was examined and their population size estimated. During 258 d of boat-based surveys, 1,158 photographs (black and white film plus digital) of minke whales were collected during the summer months (primarily June through August) between 1997 and 2008. While 100 individuals were identified over the 10-y study, only 40 individuals possessed reliable marks (notches on the dorsal fin). Of the unique (i.e., reliably marked) individuals, 35% were observed on more than 1 d (14/40), and 12.5% were photographed in more than 1 y (5/40). The population size was estimated to be 43 unique individuals (28 SE) with an estimate loss rate (that includes mortality, permanent emigration, and mark change) of 35.2%/y (28.1 SE). As 51% of the population was estimated to possess reliable marks, the total population size for this area was estimated at 84 individuals.

Key Words: photo-identification, mark-recapture, minke whale, Balaenoptera acutorostrata, site fidelity

Document Type: Research article

DOI: 10.1578/AM.37.4.2011.454

Page Numbers: 454-463

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