Photo-ID studies of fin whales in the North Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea
Stock structure hypotheses for North Atlantic fin whales, Balaenoptera physalus, have based largely molecular genetic analyses. This paper describes fin whale photo-identification catalogues in the North Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea that may house data useful for testing these hypotheses. There are three independent fin whale catalogues in the western North Atlantic. The North Atlantic Fin Whale Catalogue presently contains 841 unique individuals sampled along the coast of North America, from the New York Bight north to the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Two catalogues in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, held by the Mingan Island Cetacean Study (MICS, n=430) and the Groupe de Recherche et d'Éducation sur les Mammifères Marins (GREMM, n=100), expect to begin reconcile their catalogues in the near future. A few small photo-ID holdings were identified in the eastern North Atlantic and the Europhlukes project provides an alternate option for photo-identification data across a wide range of species and institutions in the eastern North Atlantic. Finally, we describe four primary catalogues in the Mediterranean Sea. The largest (n=425 individuals) is maintained by Tethys Research Institute, and they are currently leading an effort to reconcile all four catalogues. Overall, only a few attempts have been made to match individuals among photo-ID catalogues and between oceanic areas. However, recent efforts to integrate local catalogues should improve the potential of these archives for ocean-scale comparisons.
Robbins, Jooke, Dan DenDanto, Janie Giard, Simone Panigada, Richard Sears and Margherita Zandarelli. 2007. Photo-ID studies of fin whales in the North Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. Unpublished report to the Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Commission. Anchorage, Alaska. 4pp.
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