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Humpback and minke whale density distributions in the Southern Ocean: relationships with the sea ice edge

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Sophie Fielding.

Open to non-BAS; please contact Sophie Fielding (sof@bas.ac.uk) if you would like to attend.

Baleen whales predominantly feed on krill in the Southern Ocean. Krill distribution and abundance is dependent on sea ice related variables, such as sea ice extent and duration, but the impact of sea ice dynamics on baleen whale distribution is poorly understood. For almost 30 years, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) has conducted whale surveys in the Southern Ocean during austral summer months under the IWC /IDCR-SOWER programme. I will show results from spatial models for humpback and minke whale densities in the Indian part of the Southern Ocean. Selected spatial models included combinations of the following covariates: closest distance of sighting to sea ice edge, closest distance of sighting to the Southern Antarctic Circumpolar Current Front (SACCF), bathymetric depth, Optimally Interpolated Sea Surface Temperature (OISST) and latitude. The spatial models suggested that humpback whale densities are higher at small to moderate distances from the sea ice edge. However, Antarctic minke whale densities did not show a consistent relationship with distance from the sea ice edge over the years, suggesting heterogeneity in distribution for this region.

This talk is part of the British Antarctic Survey series.

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