GRAY WHALE CALF PRODUCTION 1994–2000: ARE OBSERVED FLUCTUATIONS RELATED TO CHANGES IN SEASONAL ICE COVER?
Version of Record online: 26 AUG 2006
Marine Mammal Science
Volume 18, Issue 1, pages 121–144, January 2002
How to Cite
Perryman, W. L., Donahue, M. A., Perkins, P. C. and Reilly, S. B. (2002), GRAY WHALE CALF PRODUCTION 1994–2000: ARE OBSERVED FLUCTUATIONS RELATED TO CHANGES IN SEASONAL ICE COVER?. Marine Mammal Science, 18: 121–144. doi: 10.1111/j.1748-7692.2002.tb01023.x
- Issue online: 26 AUG 2006
- Version of Record online: 26 AUG 2006
- Received: 17 August 2000 Accepted: 24 April 2001
- gray whales;
- Eschrichtius robustus;
- calf production;
- arctic ice
We conducted shore-based sighting surveys to estimate the number of northbound migrating gray whale calves passing Piedras Blancas, California, for seven consecutive years (1994–2000). In addition, we conducted aerial surveys to determine offshore distribution of the migration in 1994 and 1995, measured day/night migration rates with thermal sensors in 1994–1996, and maintained concurrent replicate watches near the peak of each migration to estimate the proportion of the cow/calf pairs missed by the standard watch team. During good weather, we counted 325, 194, 407, 501, 440, 141, and 96 calves during 1994–2000, respectively. Correcting these counts for periods not on watch and for calves missed, produced final estimates of 945 calves (SE = 68.21) for 1994, 619 calves (SE = 67.19) for 1995, 1,146 calves (SE = 70.67) for 1996, 1,431 calves (SE = 82.02) for 1997, 1,388 calves (SE = 91.84) for 1998, 427 calves (SE = 41.10) for 1999, and 279 calves (SE = 34.79) for 2000. Calf production indices (calf estimate/total population estimate) are 4.2%, 2.7%, 4.8%, 5.8%, 5.5%, 1.7%, and 1.1% for the years 1994–2000, respectively. Fluctuations in calf production over this time period were positively correlated with the length of time that primary feeding habitat was free of seasonal ice during the previous year.