TitleMigratory movements and surfacing rates of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) satellite tagged at Socorro Island, Mexico
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsLagerquist, BA, Mate, BR, Ortega-Ortiz, JG, Winsor, M, Urbán-Ramirez, J
JournalMarine Mammal Science
Keywordssatellite telemetry
AbstractHumpback whales wintering in the Revillagigedo Archipelago, Mexico, have been considered a different subpopulation from those found off mainland Mexico and Baja California. The primary feeding grounds for Revillagigedo humpbacks remain unknown. In February 2003, we deployed 11 Argos satellite-monitored radio tags to track movements and surfacings of humpback whales (five adults without calves, five mothers with calves, one calf) off Socorro Island in the Revillagigedo Archipelago. Tracking ranged from 222 to 10,481 km over 4.9–149.1 d. Eight whales left Socorro Island: five visited other Mexican wintering destinations, seven moved north of these areas. Migration routes were primarily offshore (average 444 km). Two whales were tracked to feeding grounds: one to British Columbia (46 d migration), and one to Alaska (49 d migration). Mean travel speeds were 1.2 km/h in wintering areas, 4.0 km/h during migration, and 2.2 km/h in feeding areas. Overall surfacing rates ranged from 21 to 88 surfacings/h. Surfacing rates differed between the calf and all other whales, and between feeding areas and migratory/wintering areas for the calf and an adult without a calf. The calf also showed diel variation in surfacing rates. The offshore habits of tagged whales may explain scarce resightings of Revillagigedo humpbacks outside the Revillagigedo Archipelago.