Subject: Whales

Martine Berube (martine@newt.bio.uci.edu)
Tue, 21 Oct 1997 14:02:51 -0700

Question:>>>From Maddy, Natalie, and Kaitlinn:  How long is the average Fin
whale?
>What kind of food does a fin whale eat?  Could you please send us a
>picture of a whale?

Answer: Fin whale can reach 20 meters (around 60 feet) in length. They eat
a variety of fishes, such as sandlance (Ammodytes spp.), capelin (Malotus
villosus), or herring (Clupea harengus) and eat small crustacean such as
Scizopoda and finally some zooplanktonic euphausiid krill (Meganyctiphanes
norvegica or Thysanoessa spp.).

Question:>>>From Toby: How many skin samples have you taken? How do you
take a skin
>sample?

Answer: I really do not know how many skin samples I have taken but lets
say it is around 300. These, however, are mainly of humpback whales. The
biopsy equipment consists on a crossbow and an arrow with a modified tip of
stainless steel and a float molded to the arrow.  The dart is typically a
cylinder very sharp at the leading edge and there are barbs inside the
cylinder retaining the sample.  Alternative and also a successful approach
to obtain skin samples is to collect sloughed skin which is left floating
on the water after an active behavior such as a breach or lobtail.

Question:>>>From Torie and Liz: How many fin whales are left?

Answer: There might be around 125,000 fin whales left around the world. In
the North Atlantic, the fin whales are still quite numerous. The last
estimate of abundance was approximately 56,000 individuals. However, in the
North Pacific Ocean there is perhaps only 16,000 individuals.

Question:>>>From Rob, Eric and Adam:  How many fin whales are there in the
Gulf of
>Maine?

Answer: There are more than 800 individual fin whales identified within the
Gulf of Maine, Gulf of St. Lawrence, off New York and Nova Scotia. I do not
know what is the estimated for the Gulf of Maine specifically. I would
suggest you to contact the organization "Allied Whale", which you can find
under the "WhaleNet Affiliate's Organization and Whale Adoption Programs"
menu. They are in charge of the fin whale catalog for the northeastern
Atlantic and should be able to give you a more precise approximation of the
fin whale abundance in the Gulf of Maine.


Question:>>>From Justin, Sam, and Bobby:  In which of the five areas that
you are
>studying are there the most fin whales?

Answer: This is a difficult question. I would answer you that fin whales
are abundant in all the five areas. Their abundance in one specific area
may vary from year to year depending of the food.

Martine Berube
Dept. of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
University of California
Irvine, CA, 92697-2525
PHONE:714-824-8680
FAX:714-824-2181
E-mail: martine@newt.bio.uci.edu