Blue Whale Foraging and Reproduction are Related to Environmental Conditions
Published:12 Mar.2023    Source:Oregon State University

The findings are a significant advancement in researchers' understanding of the habitat use and behavior of this population of blue whales, which Oregon State University researchers first identified as genetically distinct from other blue whale populations less than a decade ago.

"We went from not knowing 10 years ago whether this was a distinct population to now understanding these whales' ecology and their response to changing environmental conditions," said the study's lead author, Dawn Barlow, a postdoctoral scholar in OSU's Marine Mammal Institute. "These findings can inform conservation management of this blue whale population and their habitat."
The patterns and intensity of the whales' calls and songs over two years showed strong seasonality in their foraging and breeding behavior, and the vocalizations changed based on environmental conditions such as a documented marine heatwave, Barlow said.
The study was just published in the journal Ecology and Evolution. Barlow conducted the research as a doctoral student in the Geospatial Ecology of Marine Megafauna Laboratory at Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, led by associate professor Leigh Torres, a co-author of the new paper.