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Posted on: June 2, 2011
PWF Presents Research at IWC Scientific Committee Meeting
May 30, 2011 -- Pacific Whale Foundation President and Founder Greg Kaufman is in Tromso, Norway, attending the Annual Meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) Scientific Committee from May 29 through June 11. Kaufman is an Invited Participant Member in the IWC Scientific Committee and is presenting seven research papers from Pacific Whale Foundation to the group of 200 scientists and marine biologists from around the world who will be attending.
The Scientific Committee has an important role in evaluating scientific data about whales and issuing recommendations regarding commercial whaling and other whale management issues to the IWC. These recommendations provide the basis for discussions at the Annual International Whaling Commission General Meeting which will take place in early July. Pacific Whale Foundation’s Ecuador Research Director Cristina Castro will be attending the IWC General Meeting, as part of Ecuador’s delegation.
The Scientific Committee was established by the International Whaling Commission in 1950. It has met every year since then.
"The goal of the Scientific Committee is to make it possible for the IWC decisions to base its decisions on sound science, rather than politics," says Kaufman. "The committee reviews new research about whales and cetaceans and then provides recommendations that will help shape IWC policies regarding the management of these marine mammals.”
"Pacific Whale Foundation holds a unique position among environmental groups and other non-government organizations; we are both an advocacy group, working to protect the whales from whaling, and we are members of the scientific community, called upon to share our data from our studies in Hawaii, Australia and Ecuador with the members of the IWC Scientific Community," he says. "We're able to be at the table with our data and to also speak out on behalf of protecting whales."
Kaufman is the co-author of seven different research papers to be presented at the Scientific Committee. The papers include:
“Photographic Evidence of Interchange Between East Australia and West Australia Humpback Whale Breeding Populations” reports on the first documented inter-ocean movement of a humpback whale between the Pacific Ocean (east Australia) and the Indian Ocean (west Australia) confirmed by photo-ID. A single humpback whale from east Australia (1987) was re-sighted to west Australia breeding grounds. This re-sight record across breeding stocks provides further evidence of longitudinal movement of humpback whales in the southern hemisphere and highlights the value of both opportunistic data collection and the importance of comparing identified individuals among catalogue holders working in adjacent and non-adjacent breeding regions. To download a copy, click here.
“Enhancing Platforms of Opportunity Data Collection Using Newly Developed Whale & Dolphin Tracker Software” reports on the development of Whale & Dolphin Tracker, a custom recording and tracking software developed at Pacific Whale Foundation which demonstrates how information from multiple whalewatch vessels can be collected simultaneously to provide a synoptic view of cetacean sightings over a wide area and over long-periods of time. The paper reports that outfitting whalewatch vessels worldwide with this system would increase our understanding of cetacean distribution patterns and management response time would be much enhanced. This document use to be available at: http://iwcoffice.org/_documents/sci_com/SC63docs/SC-63-WW3.pdf, but has since been removed or relocated.
“Comprehensive Photo-Identification Matching of Antarctic Area V humpback whales,” co-authored by more than 16 researchers from Australia, New Zealand, Oceania and the United States, reports on a comprehensive matching of humpback whale fluke photographs from a feeding area known as Antarctic Area V to the whales’ migratory corridors and breeding grounds from Western Australia in the west to American Samoa, South Pacific in the east, and to the other Antarctic regions. A total of 61 unique whales were identified in Antarctic Area V during January 2010 by the French CETA project and February – March 2010 by the Antarctic Whale Expedition, a joint research effort by Australia and New Zealand. These images were placed on an open access website and researchers compared their existing catalogues to the AWE dataset. These images were matched against a total of 17,243 fluke identification images. Forty-one percent of the 2010 Antarctic images matched to existing catalogues; 24 matched to east Australia and 1 matched to New Caledonia. The majority of the 2010 whales were photographed in the vicinity of the Balleny Islands, which adds support to previous opportunistic studies linking individuals in Antarctic Area V to east Australia but not to west Australia or Oceania. To download a copy, click here.
“Whale Surprise Encounters and Near Misses: Proxies of Vessel Strikes in Maui County Waters” reports on a modeling exercise conducted by Pacific Whale Foundation based on data collected systematically from a fleet of whale watching vessels in Maui County, Hawaii waters during the 2011 humpback whale breeding season (January through April). The research estimated humpback whale density around the vessels during 15-minute scans and recorded a ‘surprise encounter’ each time a whale surfaced within 300 m from the vessel without being detected by observers and crew. The data recorded 2,464 humpback whale sightings including 133 (3%) surprise encounters. Download this paper.
“A preliminary review of skin conditions and other body anomalies observed on humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) from Ecuador" reviews skin conditions and other anomalies observed on humpback whales from 1996 until 2009 from Ecuador. Forty-five cases were chosen for their level of severity. There were 20 cases of skin conditions and 31 cases of body anomalies in the sample. Six had more than one case in their body. This paper examines skin anomalies and diseases in cetaceans and their suspected etiologies, as part of the comprehensive study of humpback whales off Ecuador. Download a copy of this paper.
"Mid-migration humpback whale feeding behavior off Eden, NSW, Australia" reports on humpback whale feeding opportunistically at low- to mid- latitudes in known breeding grounds and during migration in east Australia -- an area where this has been observed more regularly than anywhere else in the world. The paper reports on the frequency and behavior of feeding humpback whales off Eden, New South Wales (1995 -2010). Whales were observed feeding every year, except in 2001 with the greatest number of whales observed feeding in 1995, 1996, and 2005. Preliminary analysis of the relationship between Sea Surface Temperatures and the proportion of whales observed feeding during 1995 and 1996 occurred during the coldest water temperatures in the area for the same period suggesting strong upwelling events. The increased 2005 feeding was likely fueled by nutrient- rich upwelling promoted by the East Australian Current (EAC). The papers’ authors suggest that this geographic area is more important as a feeding area to migrating humpback whales than previously thought, and that areas off the coast of southeastern New South Wales may serve as extralimital foraging grounds, especially for sub-adult whales. To download a copy, please follow this link.
"Comparison of the Humpback Whale Catalogs Between Ecuador, Peru and American Samoa. Evidence of the Enlargement of the Breeding Stock G to Peru" shows the results of a comparison of the catalogues of photo-identified humpback whales from four research groups working in Southern Hemisphere breeding areas collected between 1996 and 2010. The entire dataset included 1470 individual whales from Ecuador, 96 from Peru (Breeding Stock G) and 168 from America Samoa Breeding Stock E-3). Two matches were found between Ecuador and Peru, all of them were inter-year re-sightings. Our data confirms that the wintering area of the Breeding Stock G extends approximately 700 km to south. The study suggests the Peru coastal area may be considered as the southern limit of the breeding area for BS-G and suggests the importance of continuing the exchange of catalogs with other adjacent and on-adjacent breeding areas, which would have implications for management and conservation. To download a copy, click here.
To coincide with the IWC meetings, Pacific Whale Foundation has launched a “Stop Whaling Now” campaign to call attention to Iceland,
Norway and Japan’s continued whaling operations. The campaign includes educational materials, petitions, a web page, signage and “Stop Whaling” t-shirts featuring the word “Stop” written in five languages. To learn more, click here, or call (808) 249-8811 ext. 1.