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Keywords:

  • humpback whale;
  • fin whale;
  • sei whale;
  • North Pacific;
  • whaling;
  • population structure;
  • prey;
  • reproduction;
  • abundance

Abstract

Logbook data from California shore whaling stations at Moss Landing (1919–1922 and 1924) and Trinidad (1920 and 1922–1926) are analyzed. The logs for the two stations record the taking of 2,111 whales, including 1,871 humpbacks, 177 fin whales, 26 sei whales, 3 blue whales, 12 sperm whales, 7 gray whales, 1 right whale, 1 Baird's beaked whale, and 13 whales of unspecified type (probably humpbacks). Most whales were taken from spring to autumn, but catches were made in all months of some years. The sex ratios of humpback, fin, and sei whales (the three species with sufficient sample sizes to test) did not differ from parity. Primary prey, determined from stomach contents, included sardines and euphausiids for both humpback and fin whales, and ‘plankton’ (probably euphausiids) for sei whales. The prevalence of pregnancy was 0.46 among mature female humpbacks and 0.43 among mature female fin whales, although these values are reported with caution. Information on length distribution for all species is summarized. Analysis of the catch data for this and other areas supports the current view that humpback whales along the west coast of the continental United States comprise a single feeding stock and also suggests that the present population is well below pre-exploitation levels.