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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Where the Whales Go:The Migration Routes of Humpbacks in the South West Atlantic

  • Author(s): Thouless, Clare
  • et al.

The migration patterns of humpback whales in the southwestern Atlantic have not been studied in detail. Humpback whales that winter off the coast of Brazil migrate south to offshore waters around South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. This project uses data collected from satellite tags attached to humpback whales off the coast of Brazil between 2003 and 2019 to establish what paths they take and whether they use oceanic features, in particular seamounts, during their migrations.

The results show that this population of humpbacks leave the Brazilian coast using two different paths, cross over multiple seamounts, including the Rio Grande Rise, and most of them use a direct path to their feeding grounds. The results indicate that humpback whales may use seamounts during their migration, although further research is required to understand their potential use of seamounts during their migration.

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