Humpback Migration

From: Howard (
Date: Sat Jun 08 2002 - 01:34:10 EDT

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    Dear Mr Garrett,
           My son is doing a project on whales and he needs some information on
    the seasonal migration of a Southern Humpback Whale. This information will
    be very helpful.

    Yours Sincerely,
    Matina Nelson

    Dear Matina Nelson,

             I looked on the web and found this link:
    Each year several southern humpback whale groups leave their feeding
    grounds in the Antarctic to begin their epic voyage of approximately 10,000
    Kilometres. One of the groups travel up along the eastern seaboard of
    Australia, passing Cape Byron on their way to their birthing and mating
    grounds in the sub tropical waters of the Great Barrier Reef beyond Hervey Bay.

    At birth humpback whale calves have little body fat and would not survive
    in the icy waters of the Antarctic; hence the annual return to the warm
    waters of the Great Barrier Reef for birthing and mating.

    Also, this URL contains the below:
    Humpbacks undertake extensive seasonal migrations. They migrate annually
    from colder waters, where they feed in spring and summer to tropical winter
    breeding grounds where they mate, calve and usually do not feed. The first
    detailed descriptions of long distance migrations between summering and
    wintering areas were for the Southern Hemisphere populations, where
    information was available from shore-based and pelagic whaling operations.

    Humpback whales mostly migrate through deep waters (beyond the 200 m depth
    contour) although Northern Hemisphere feeding grounds are often coastal, as
    are the breeding grounds on the shallow banks in the tropics. The exact
    routes followed by migrating humpbacks are not known for all populations.

    Humpbacks may undertake local movements in summer in search of prey.

    Humpback whales appear to be segregated into different age or reproductive
    classes when migrating, although this segregation is not as clear in the
    Northern Hemisphere as in the Southern Hemisphere.

    Some humpback whales may be resident in certain areas year round.

    You might also be interested in this recent paper:

    Michael J Noad, Douglas H. Cato, and M.M. Bryden

    Song was recorded from Australian east coast humpback whales, Megaptera
    novaeangliae, during migration in 1995 - 1998. Over 1000 hours of song were
    used to determine the song pattern in 252 song sessions. While the pattern
    of the song was initially highly stereotyped, in 1996 two singers were
    recorded with a completely different song type. During the 1997 migrations
    the use of the 'new' song type increased dramatically and completely
    replaced the 'old' song by 1998. The 'new' song type was identical to song
    from Australian west coast humpback whales recorded in 1996 but identical
    to song from Australian west coast humpback whales recorded in 1996 but
    different to that from 1995 or 1997. These results demonstrate that the
    introduction of west coast song at a very low initial prevalence was able
    to completely displace the vocal cultural tradition of the east coast
    population. The process of change in humpback whale song and bird song has
    been described as 'cultural evolution' whereby changes in songs are passed
    among individuals by learning and accumulate over time. The song changes
    described here were cultural, but were revolutionary rather than
    evolutionary, the cultural vocal pattern of one population displacing and
    replacing completely that of another population.

    Howard Garrett
    Orca Network
    2403 So. North Bluff Rd.
    Greenbank WA 98253
    (360) 678-3451

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