Migratory insights from singing humpback whales recorded around central New Zealand
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The migration routes of wide-ranging species can be difficult to study, particularly at sea. In the western South Pacific, migratory routes of humpback whales between breeding and feeding areas are unclear. Male humpback whales sing a population-specific song, which can be used to match singers on migration to a breeding population. To investigate migratory routes and breeding area connections, passive acoustic recorders were deployed in the central New Zealand migratory corridor (2016); recorded humpback whale song was compared to song from the closest breeding populations of East Australia and New Caledonia (2015-2017). Singing northbound whales migrated past New Zealand from June to August via the east coast of the South Island and Cook Strait. Few song detections were made along the east coast of the North Island. New Zealand song matched New Caledonia song, suggesting a migratory destination, but connectivity to East Australia could not be ruled out. Two song types were present in New Zealand, illustrating the potential for easterly song transmission from East Australia to New Caledonia in this shared migratory corridor. This study enhances our understanding of western South Pacific humpback whale breeding population connectivity, and provides novel insights into the dynamic transmission of song culture.
Warren , V E , Constantine , R , Noad , M , Garrigue , C & Garland , E C 2020 , ' Migratory insights from singing humpback whales recorded around central New Zealand ' , Royal Society Open Science , vol. 7 , no. 11 , 201084 . https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.201084
Royal Society Open Science
Copyright © 2020 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.
DescriptionFunding: VEW is funded by a University of Auckland Doctoral Scholarship and the Woodside Marine Mammal Research Grant awarded by Woodside Energy. ECG is funded by a Royal Society University Research Fellowship.
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