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Summer and fall habitat of North Atlantic right whales (Eubalaena glacialis) inferred from satellite telemetry

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Abstract:

Satellite-monitored radio tags were attached to North Atlantic right whales (Eubalaena glacialis) in Grand Manan Basin of the lower Bay of Fundy during the summer and early fall seasons of 1989–1991 and 2000. Monte Carlo tests were used to examine the distribution of the tagged whales in space and time and with respect to a variety of environmental variables to characterize right whale habitat on their northern feeding grounds. These environmental variables included depth, depth gradient, climatological surface and bottom hydrographic properties, and remotely sensed surface temperature, chlorophyll concentration, and their respective horizontal gradients. Site fidelity in the Bay of Fundy was very low during 1989–1991 and high during 2000. When the tagged animals left the Bay, they did not frequently visit the deep basins of the Gulf of Maine and Scotian Shelf, where abundances of their primary copepod prey, Calanus finmarchicus, are thought to be high. Instead, right whales visited areas characterized by low bottom water temperatures, high surface salinity, and high surface stratification. No evidence was found that the tagged right whales associated with oceanic fronts or regions with high standing stocks of phytoplankton.

Des baleines franches noires (Eubalaena glacialis) ont été munies d'étiquette radio et surveillées par satellite dans le bassin de Grand Manan dans la baie de Fundy inférieure durant l'été et le début de l'automne en 1989–1991 et en 2000. Des épreuves de Monte Carlo ont servi à étudier la répartition des baleines marquées dans l'espace et le temps et en fonction d'une gamme de variables environnementales afin de caractériser l'habitat des baleines franches noires sur leurs aires d'alimentation du nord. Les variables environnementales comprenaient la profondeur, le gradient de profondeur, les propriétés hydrographiques de la surface et climatologiques du fond, les températures de surface déterminées par senseur à distance et la chlorophylle, ainsi que leurs gradients horizontaux respectifs. La fidélité au site était très faible dans la baie de Fundy en 1989–1991, mais élevée en 2000. Quand les animaux marqués quittaient la baie, ils ne visitaient pas souvent le golfe du Maine et la plate-forme néoécossaise, où il existe, estime-t-on, de fortes abondances de Calanus finmarchicus, le copépode qui leur sert de proie principale. Au contraire, les baleines franches noires visitaient des régions caractérisées par une température froide des eaux du fond, une salinité élevée en surface et une forte stratification de surface. Il n'y a pas d'indications qui laissent croire que les baleines franches noires marquéeassocient à des fronts océaniques ou des régions contenanimportants stocks de phytoplancton.[Traduit par la Rédaction]

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2005

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  • Published continuously since 1901 (under various titles), this monthly journal is the primary publishing vehicle for the multidisciplinary field of aquatic sciences. It publishes perspectives (syntheses, critiques, and re-evaluations), discussions (comments and replies), articles, and rapid communications, relating to current research on cells, organisms, populations, ecosystems, or processes that affect aquatic systems. The journal seeks to amplify, modify, question, or redirect accumulated knowledge in the field of fisheries and aquatic science. Occasional supplements are dedicated to single topics or to proceedings of international symposia.
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