POPULATION CHARACTERISTICS AND MIGRATION OF SUMMER AND LATE-SEASON HUMPBACK WHALES (MEGAPTERA NOVAEANGLIAE) IN SOUTHEASTERN ALASKA

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Abstract

A total of 326 humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) were individually identified in southeastern Alaska during five summer seasons (July to September) and four late seasons (November to February) spanning the years 1979 to 1983. Peak numbers of whales were found late in August or early in September. Whales arrived 1–2 wk later in 1982 than in 1981. Whales sighted in both the summer and late seasons of 1981 and 1982 remained about 3.7 mo and one whale remained for at least 4.9 mo. Humpback whales from southeastern Alaska wintered in Hawaiian or Mexican waters, but generally did not travel to other feeding regions. The most rapid migratory transit between Hawaii and southeastern Alaska was 79 d. Based on mark-recapture analyses of the photographic data, we estimate a population of 270–372 whales in the southeastern Alaska feeding herd.

Ancillary