Isotope-based inferences of the seasonal foraging and migratory strategies of blue whales in the eastern Pacific Ocean

Geraldine Busquets-Vass, Seth D. Newsome, Mario A. Pardo, John Calambokidis, Sergio Aguíñiga-García, Diego Páez-Rosas, Jaime Gómez-Gutiérrez, Luis M. Enríquez-Paredes, Diane Gendron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations

Abstract

Migratory marine megafauna generally move vast distances between productive foraging grounds and environmentally stable breeding grounds, but characterizing how they use these habitats to maintain homeostasis and reproduce is difficult. We used isotope analysis of blue whale skin strata (n = 621) and potential prey (n = 300) to examine their migratory and foraging strategies in the eastern Pacific Ocean. Our results suggest that most whales in the northeast Pacific use a mixed income and capital breeding strategy, and use the California Current Ecosystem as their primary summer-fall foraging ground. A subset of individuals exhibited migratory plasticity and spend most of the year in the Gulf of California or Costa Rica Dome, two regions believed to be their primary winter-spring breeding grounds. Isotope data also revealed that whales in the southern Eastern Tropical Pacific generally do not forage in the northeast Pacific, which suggests a north-south population structure with a boundary near the equator.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105201
JournalMarine Environmental Research
Volume163
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2021

Keywords

  • Balaenoptera musculus
  • Behavior
  • Foraging ecology
  • Isotope mixing models
  • Marine ecology
  • Population dynamics
  • Trophic overlap

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Isotope-based inferences of the seasonal foraging and migratory strategies of blue whales in the eastern Pacific Ocean'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this