Our Right Whale Team to Present at IWC Meeting on Increased Calf Mortality

Researchers from our Southern Right Whale Program, our partners at Instituto de Conservación de Ballenas and the Southern Right Whale Health Monitoring Program will be presenting five abstracts (listed below) at an International Whaling Commission meeting that will be held on Aug 5-6, 2014 in Puerto Madryn, Argentina.

Gull Attack on Right Whale The IWC Workshop–Southern Right Whale Die-Off and Kelp Gull Management “will bring together marine biologists, veterinarians and specialists in stress, disease, krill depletion and gull management. The aim of the event is to understand the cause or causes of the large number of Southern Right whale deaths at Peninsula Valdes, Chubut, each year. For many years, harassment by kelp gulls has been blamed for the seasonal die-off which effects mainly calves. The gulls feed on the whale’s skin and blubber. Once the whale’s skin is penetrated, the birds return repeatedly, creating wounds up to 4 inches deep and 5 feet long.  77% percent of whales now carry these lesions and over 670 whales have died in the region since 2003, but evidence now suggests a range of other factors could be involved. The expert group will assess each potential cause, aiming to develop a two year work plan to address the problem. They will also develop a strategy to minimise kelp gull harassment which must be considered an aggravating factor, whether or it is directly responsible for the deaths.”

Abstracts we will be presenting with our partners are:

  • Dead Right Whale Calf 2008 - Photo by Iain Kerr Increased wounding of right whales by kelp gulls at Península Valdés, Argentina. Carina Marón et al.
  • Immediate and delayed population consequences of increased calf mortality in sourthern right whales of Peninsula Valdes, Argentina. Carina Marón et al.
  • Kelp gull attack frequency on southern right whales at Península Valdés, Argentina with data for the period 1995-2013. Mariano Sironi et al.
  • Histologic lesions in sites of ante-mortem kelp gull-induced wounds in southern right whales stranded at Peninsula Valdes, Argentina between 2006-2011. Dee McAloose et al.
  • Southern right whale strandings during the 2012-2013 seasons at Península Valdés, Argentina. Marcetla Uhart et al.

Source: International Whaling Commission