Editors’ Select Webinar: Cost of migration and migratory timing in Western Australian humpback whales, with Grace Russell

You are invited to the next edition of the SMM Editors’ Select Webinar Series. This series highlights the latest and most exciting marine mammal science published in the Marine Mammal Science Journal. The SMM created this series to give scientists and citizens around the world a chance to engage with marine mammal scientists, learn, and ask questions. All are welcome!

Join us on Thursday April 18th 2024 at 04 pm PDT / 7 pm EDT / 7 am AWST (+1)
for the next SMM Editors’ Select Series Webinar:
Cost of migration and migratory timing in Western Australian humpback whales
with Grace Russell

This event was recorded live and published on youtube.
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About this talk:
Migratory humpback whales cover the cost of reproduction in low-latitude breeding grounds with stored energy accumulated from polar feeding grounds. The ability to accumulate sufficient energy reserves during feeding periods is vital for key life history stages during migration, including mating, calving, and lactation. This study aimed to investigate the relationship between migration timing and body condition of Western Australian humpback whales. We used drone footage to measure body condition by obtaining morphometric measurements from 460 individuals. The body condition of juveniles was shown to be correlated with migration timing for their northern migration, with individuals in better body condition migrating to the breeding grounds earlier. While stored energy is vital for humpback whales to successfully complete their vast migration to-and-from breeding grounds, we found no evidence that body condition affects the migration timing for adults, lactating females, and calves.

About the presenter:
Grace has recently completed her PhD at Southern Cross University in the Northern Rivers of New South Wales. For the past four years she has studied the body condition of the two breeding populations of humpback whales in Australia (east and west coast) and the South-east Indian Ocean population of pygmy blue whales, exploring the relationship between migration timing and body condition, as well as energetic usage over their migration. During her PhD Grace created The Fat Whales Project and now her research focuses on the energetics, physiology and morphology of cetacean species in Australia. Grace is an experienced remote pilot (using drones) and has worked on marine mammal research projects in Bremer Bay (orca), Ningaloo Reef (blue whales), and the Great Barrier Reef (dolphins).

Open access to this article is made temporarily available in the weeks around the presentation and can be found here. Current SMM members have access to all Marine Mammal Science papers.

Missed a presentation or want to share this series with a friend? All previous Editors’ Select presentations are recorded and archived on our YouTube channel here.


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