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Whales feeding off Banderas Bay

Dear friends of ECOBAC:

Some of you will remember that in the season 2011-2012 our beloved humpback whales surprised us by feeding in Banderas Bay.

Humpback whales feeding in Banderas Bay, winter season 2011-2012.

 

As is well known, humpback whales feed during the summer at high latitudes and in the winter they travel to more tropical latitudes to their breeding grounds, such as Banderas Bay, where they rarely feed. During the breeding season, the whales are not hungry thanks to their large layer of blubber, so when we saw them for the first time feeding, we immediately took the task of gathering as much information as possible to have a complete picture of what was happening.

We never thought that we would be registering the longest intensive feeding episode of humpback whales in a breeding ground in the world.We recorded a total of 26 different feeding occasions over a period of 79 days between December 2011 and March 2012. Sightings of 1 to 50 whales were observed eating in the same area, involving mostly adults.

This is not the first time that whales are observed feeding in breeding areas, occasionally they have been seen in the Gulf of California, Oaxaca, Brazil and Nicaragua among other places. However, they are usually solitary whales, mostly juveniles and usually these are spaced feeding events.

 

 Due to the relevance of this information, we decided to write a scientific articlye, which was published in the
Revista Latin American Journal of Aquatic Mammals
on September 30th, 2019.

 

In the article we conclude that the Eastern North Pacific humpback whale population will feed opportunistically feed when prey resources are available, changing migration and behavioral patterns to successfully exploit food resources to survive.

 

This is the anchovy from which the humpback whales were feeding.

 

Humpback whales can provide insight into the biological consequences of inter-annual climate fluctuations, fundamental for ecosystem predictions related to global climate change.

With the Mexican humpback whale population now classified as “Threatened” and the Central American population as “Endangered” (NOAA, 2016), it is essential that this phenomenon of regional feeding be investigated, to aid in the successful population management and to better understand global consequences of climate change.

 

If you want to learn more about this interesting case you can consult the article:

Frisch-Jordán, A., Ransome, N.L., Aranda-Mena, O and Romo-Sirvent, F. (2019) Intensive feeding of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) in the breeding ground of Banderas Bay, Mexico.

http://lajamjournal.org/index.php/lajam/article/view/691

We thank the co-authors Nicky Ransome, Oscar Aranda and Fernando Romo.

 

Feces of a whale about to dive, February 8, 2012.

 

Thank you, until next time!