U.S. Department of Commerce



John Calambokidis
Gretchehn Steiger
Janice Straley, Alaska
Louis Herman, Kewalo Basin Marine Mammal Laboratory, University of Hawaii, 1129 Ala Moana Boulevard, Honolulu, Hawaii
Salvatore Cerchio, Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, P. 0. Box 450, Moss Landing, California
Dan Salden, Hawaii Whale Research Foundation, Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, Edwardsville, Illinois
Jorge Urban R., Departamento de Biologia Marina, Universidad Aut6noma de Baja California Sur, Ap. Post 19-B, B.C.S. 23081, Mexico
Jeff Jacobsen, Arcata, California
Olga von Ziegesar, Homer, Alaska
Kenneth Balcomb, Center for Whale Research, 1359 Smuggler's Cove Road, Friday Harbor, Washington
Christine Gabriele, Glacier Bay National Park
Marilyn Dahlheim, National Marine Mammal Laboratory, NOAA
Senzo Uchida, Okinawa Expo Aquarium, Motobu-cho, Okinawa-ken 905-03, Japan
Graeme Ellis, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Pacific Biological Station, Nanaimo, British Columbia V9R 5K6, Canada
Yukifumi Miyamura, World Wide Fund for Nature-Japan, Tokyo, Japan
Paloma Ladron de Guevara P., Laboratorio de Mamiferos Marinos, Universidad Nacional Autdnoma de Mexico, Ap. Post 70-572, Mexico City, D.F 04510, Mexico
Manami Yamaguchi, Ogasawara Marine Center, Byobudani, Chichijima, Ogasawara-mura, Tokyo 100-2 1, Japan
Fumihiko Sato, Ogasawara Marine Center, Byobudani, Chichijima, Ogasawara-mura, Tokyo 100-2 1, Japan
Sally Mizroch, National Marine Mammal Laboratory, NOAA
Lisa Schlender, Cascadia Research Collective
Jay Barlow, Southwest Fisheries Science CenterFollow
Terrance Quinn II, University of Alaska Fairbanks

Date of this Version



Published in MARINE MAMMAL SCIENCE, 17(4):769-794 (October 2001).


Despite the extensive use of photographic identification methods to investigate humpback whales in the North Pacific, few quantitative analyses have been conducted. We report on a comprehensive analysis of interchange in the North Pacific among three wintering regions (Mexico, Hawaii, and Japan) each with two to three subareas, and feeding areas that extended from southern California to the Aleutian Islands. Of the 6,413 identification photographs of humpback whales obtained by 16 independent research groups between 1990 and 1993 and examined for this study, 3,650 photographs were determined to be of suitable quality. A total of 1,241 matches was found by two independent matching teams, identifying 2,712 unique whales in the sample (seen one to five times). Site fidelity was greatest at feeding areas where there was a high rate of resightings in the same area in different years and a low rate of interchange among different areas. Migrations between winter regions and feeding areas did not follow a simple pattern, although highest match rates were found for whales that moved between Hawaii and southeastern Alaska, and between mainland and Baja Mexico and California. Interchange among subareas of the three primary wintering regions was extensive for Hawaii, variable (depending on subareas) for Mexico, and low for Japan and reflected the relative distances among subareas. Interchange among these primary wintering regions was rare. This study provides the first quantitative assessment of the migratory structure of humpback whales in the entire North Pacific basin.