Vol 6, Issue 2, May 2019

Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) Intra/Inter-Seasonal Exchanges Between Puerto Rico and the Southeastern Caribbean


MacKay, M. M., Bacon, C. E., Bouveret, L., Fossette, S., & Stevick, P. T. (2019). Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) intra/inter-seasonal exchanges between Puerto Rico and the southeastern Caribbean. Animal Behavior and Cognition, 6(2), 98–104. https://doi.org/10.26451/abc.


A study of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae, Borowski, 1781) was conducted off Puerto Rico, from 2012 through 2016, in an attempt to understand the spatial and temporal connection among current low density areas throughout the southeastern Caribbean. Six hundred and sixteen animals were sighted, of which 87 (14%) were individually identified. Seventeen individuals (20%) were re-sighted in one or more of the North Atlantic Caribbean breeding areas. Two newly reported inter-seasonal re-sightings (between Puerto Rico and Guadeloupe), and one intra-seasonal exchange (including the only reported match between Puerto Rico and Anguilla) between Puerto Rico and the southeastern Caribbean are reported here. A paucity of data failed to confirm that humpback whales are repopulating their full extent of the historical range, including Puerto Rico; however, these observations may provide a glimpse of the future importance of the southeastern Caribbean. It is especially important to understand the occupancy, movements, and habitat use throughout the entire winter range as sources of anthropogenic impacts (including vessel traffic from the growing cruise ship industry) increase throughout the Caribbean.


Humpback whale, Megaptera novaeangliae, Caribbean, Puerto Rico, Photo-identification, Migratory movements