CHALLENGE 4: Develop a sustainable and equitable ocean economy:

Generate knowledge, support innovation, and develop solutions for equitable and sustainable development of the ocean economy under changing environmental, social and climate conditions.

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  • Atlas Aquatica: Empowering Scuba Diving Ecotourism for Marine Conservation and the Blue Economy

    Favoretto, Fabio; Aburto-Oropeza, Octavio; Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Centro para la Biodiversidad Marina y la Conservación A.C. (Atlas Aquatica Project, 2023)
    Healthy oceans are essential for life, but a mere 2.9% are fully protected1. The question then arises - why is ocean protection so challenging? Among the many reasons is the economic allure of extractive activities which poses a barrier to alleviating human pressure on ocean areas. Marine protected areas (MPAs), primarily designed to preserve biodiversity, are often rationalized through a business lens and are expected to yield revenue by increasing tourists’ willingness to pay. However, MPAs are not business entities and require a set of enabling conditions to successfully reach their goals. In a successful marine protected area, a unit increase in natural capital results in a rise in tourist revenue. We developed a bioeconomic model to show how fully protecting diving sites can significantly enhance nature’s recovery and lead to larger revenues for the scuba diving industry. In Mexico, scuba diving generates as much revenue as the fishing industry, yet only 7% of the country’s diving sites are fully protected. Globally, the scuba diving industry generates up to $20 billion dollars per year, even though about half of the diving sites worldwide lack protection. Using global experiences, we designed a five-step bottom-up approach that scuba diving operators can use to amplify marine protection. This approach could catalyze the creation of stricter or new fullyprotected areas designed to incorporate existing businesses - a significant departure from the traditional business framework. The Atlas Aquatica initiative advocates for a significant shift in narrative to stimulate broader acceptance of marine protection worldwide. We aim to contribute to a sustainable blue economic growth and the 30x30 conservation target by promoting the protection of diving sites globally
  • Advancing National Ocean Best Practices and Standards Workshop and Questionnaire Report

    Przeslawski, Rachel; Gibbons, Brooke; Langlois, Tim; Monk, Jacquomo; Pini-Fitzsimmons, Joni; NSW Department of Primary Industries, University of Tasmania, University of Western Australia (National Environmental Science Program, 2023)
    The NESP Marine Biodiversity Hub (2015-2021) delivered a project that developed and progressed the adoption of nine national standards for marine survey design and sampling (field-manuals-marine-sampling-monitor-australian-waters). The project was a success, with 136 individuals from 53 organisations contributing to what is colloquially known as the SOPs (standard operating procedures). The SOPs are now considered best practices, being adopted at State, Commonwealth, and international levels by a range of users, including industry and in developing nations. Without taking the next steps and establishing national and long-term governance and application guidance, the SOPs run the risk of becoming outdated and being no longer fit-for-purpose as related to national marine monitoring objectives for key values and pressures. The first step in the development of a future framework for national marine standards is to solicit input from the marine science community about their needs. As such, we coordinated a workshop and questionnaire to collect this information (Advancing National Ocean Best Practices and Standards). The aims of the online workshop and questionnaire were: ● To improve the uptake and applicability of the national marine standard operating procedures (SOPs) and other best practices across diverse users; and ● To guide further actions on the development of future SOPs and how they are used. The workshop had 46 attendees, while the questionnaire had 47 respondents, both predominantly represented by people from Australia. High-level barriers to uptake of the SOPs were related to funding, awareness, training, content, and institutional support. Workshop participants also identified operational barriers and potential solutions. Importantly, there was consensus to continue the SOP program in the long-term, including the possible inclusion of methods, guides, and practices outside of NESP. Feedback from workshop participants and questionnaire participants was summarised into the following broad recommendations: ● Develop new SOPs, including those currently planned for NESP 2.2 (drop cameras, socioeconomic surveys, microplastics) as well as SOPs related to eDNA, drones, sub-bottom profiling, threatened and protected species, and underwater visual census ● Develop revised SOPs to provide clearer or more specific data release guidelines, updated guidelines regarding Indigenous partnerships, engagement and Indigenous Cultural Intellectual Property, glossary or list of standardised terminology and case studies to highlight diversity of users and objectives. ● Increase relevance to other user groups, particularly First Nations, by understanding the needs, preferences and capabilities of these groups and using this information to tailor existing SOPs or develop new ones as required. ● Establish an oversight committee to develop and implement a national best practice endorsement process; identify the need for new and revised SOPs, facilitate accessibility and uptake of SOPs, and track uptake and impact. The input described in this report will be used in a 2024 implementation plan to guide the future of the SOP program.
  • Oceanum Humanitatis Forums

    Academia Brasileira Da Vela Educativa (ABRAVELA) (Academia Brasileira Da Vela Educativa, 2023)
  • Marine Genetic Resources, Including the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits: An Intellectual Property Perspective

    Kirchner-Freis, Iris; ISRIM; University of Genoa (ISRIM; University of Genoa, 2023)
    In the third video (3/6) of the series, Prof. Dr. Iris Kirchner-Freis (@MLSLEGAL ) explains the provisions of Part II on "Marine genetic resources, including the fair and equitable sharing of benefits" of the Agreement under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ Agreement), which was adopted on 19 June 2023 in New York. In her presentation, she has a special focus on the intellectual property perspective. The presentation is part of the workshop "Conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ)", which took place in the framework of the 9th Summer School on the European Union and the Law of the Sea (EULoS). It was organized by the Institute for the Law of the Sea and International Marine Environmental Law (@ISRIM) and the University of Genoa (@Uni.Genova) on 1 September 2023. The workshop is a UN Ocean Decade Activity.
  • Capacity-Building and the Transfer of Marine Technology

    Grainger, Carl; ISRIM; University of Genoa (2023)
    In the sixth video (6/6) of the series, Mr Carl Grainger (Department of Foreign Affairs, Ireland) explains the provisions of Part V on "Capacity-building and the transfer of marine technology" of the Agreement under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ Agreement), which was adopted on 19 June 2023 in New York. The presentation is part of the workshop "Conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ)", which took place in the framework of the 9th Summer School on the European Union and the Law of the Sea (EULoS). It was organized by the Institute for the Law of the Sea and International Marine Environmental Law (@ISRIM ) and the University of Genoa (@Uni.Genova ) on 1 September 2023. The workshop is a UN Ocean Decade Activity.
  • Environmental Impact Assessments

    Lindström Battle, Jessica; ISRIM; University of Genoa (Universita di Genova, Institutie for the Law of the Sea and International Marine Environmental Law, 2023)
    In the fifth video (5/6) of the series, Ms. Jessica Lindström Battle (@WWF) the provisions of Part IV on "Environmental impact assessments" of the Agreement under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ Agreement), which was adopted on 19 June 2023 in New York. The presentation is part of the workshop "Conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ)", which took place in the framework of the 9th Summer School on the European Union and the Law of the Sea (EULoS). It was organized by the Institute for the Law of the Sea and International Marine Environmental Law (@ISRIM) and the University of Genoa (@Uni.Genova) on 1 September 2023. The workshop is a UN Ocean Decade Activity.
  • Measures such as Area-based Management Tools, Including Marine Protected Areas

    Becker-Weinberg, Vasco; ISRIM; University of Genoa (Universita di Genova, Institutie for the Law of the Sea and International Marine Environmental Law, 2023)
    In the fourth video (4/6) of the series, Prof. Dr. Vasco Becker-Weinberg (New University of Lisbon) explains the provisions of Part III on "Measures such as area-based management tools, including marine protected areas" of the Agreement under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ Agreement), which was adopted on 19 June 2023 in New York. The presentation is part of the workshop "Conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ)", which took place in the framework of the 9th Summer School on the European Union and the Law of the Sea (EULoS). It was organized by the Institute for the Law of the Sea and International Marine Environmental Law (@ISRIM ) and the University of Genoa (@Uni.Genova) on 1 September 2023. The workshop is a UN Ocean Decade Activity.
  • Marine Geohazards: Safeguarding society and the Blue Economy from a hidden threat

    Kopp, Heidrun; Chiocci, Francesco Latino; Berndt, Christian; Çağatay, Namık; Ferreira, Teresa; Fortes, Juana; Gràcia, Eulàlia; González Vega, Alba; Kopf, Achim; Sørensen, Mathilde B.; et al. (European Marine Board, 2021)
    Marine geohazards pose a significant threat to the European coastal population and to the development of the Blue Economy. This Position Paper discusses the type, distribution and impact of marine geohazards on the European coastal regions and the Blue Economy, as well as what and how novel scientific approaches may broaden our understanding of their trigger mechanisms and drive a risk-mitigating European policy.
  • Marine Science Communication in Europe: a way foward

    Seys, Jan; Cox, Lucy; Şahin Yücel, Ezgi; Ezgeta-Balić, Daria; Faimali, Marco; Garaventa, Francesca; García-Martínez, M. Carmen; Gili, Claudia; Kopke, Kathrin; Moreau, Kelle; et al. (European Marine Board, 2022)
    Marine Science Communication (MSC) aims to increase understanding and to raise awareness of Ocean science. It also increases curiosity about scientific discoveries and issues related to our Ocean. MSC is a tool to improve understanding of the importance of Ocean science, to help create awareness and inspire responsible behaviour at all levels of society, and to advocate for policy that is committed to a sustainable Ocean and planet.
  • European offshore renewable energy: Towards a sustainable future

    Soukissian, Takvor; O’Hagan, Anne Marie; Azzellino, Arianna; Boero, Ferdinando; Brito e Melo, Ana; Comiskey, Patricia; Gao, Zhen; Howell, Dickon; Le Boulluec, Marc; Maisondieu, Christophe; et al. (European Marine Board, 2023)
    The global economic and geopolitical situations in 2022, including the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, increasing fuel prices, and the war in Ukraine leading to questions of energy security, have further increased the impetus on governments to accelerate the move away from a reliance on oil and gas as energy sources. Offshore renewable energy sources should play a key role in that move. In light of these geo-political, economic, and environmental drivers, this Future Science Brief outlines the state-of-the-art in knowledge on offshore renewable energy (ORE). It also highlights key research needs to help us fully understand the implications of such an energy transition.
  • Marine Genetic Resources: An Intellectual Property Perspective.

    Kirchner-Freis, Iris; Kirchner, Andree (Hugo Grotius Publishers, 2023)
    After about 20 years of negotiations in different fora, the United Nations (UN) adopted on 19 June 2023 the Agreement under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ Agreement). The BBNJ Agreement is intended to ensure conservational and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction. Part II of the new BBNJ Agreement deals with marine genetic resources (MGRs) of areas beyond national jurisdiction, i.e. the high seas and the Area (Art. 1(2), BBNJ Agreement), the digital sequence information (DSI) on MGRs, and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from their utilization.
  • Early winter barium excess in the southern Indian Ocean as an annual remineralisation proxy (GEOTRACES GIPr07 cruise).

    van Horsten, Natasha René; Planquette, Hélène; Sarthou, Géraldine; Ryan-Keogh, Thomas James; Lemaitre, Nolwenn; Mtshali, Thato Nicholas; Roychoudhury, Alakendra; Bucciarelli, Eva (2022)
    he Southern Ocean (SO) is of global importance to the carbon cycle, and processes such as mesopelagic remineralisation that impact the efficiency of the biological carbon pump in this region need to be better constrained. During this study early austral winter barium excess (Baxs) concentrations were measured for the first time, along 30∘ E in the southern Indian Ocean. Winter Baxs concentrations of 59 to 684 pmol L−1 were comparable to those observed throughout other seasons. The expected decline of the mesopelagic Baxs signal to background values during winter was not observed, supporting the hypothesis that this remineralisation proxy likely has a longer timescale than previously reported. A compilation of available SO mesopelagic Baxs data, including data from this study, shows an accumulation rate of ∼0.9 µmol m−2 d−1 from September to July that correlates with temporally integrated remotely sensed primary productivity (PP) throughout the SO from data spanning ∼20 years, advocating for a possible annual timescale of this proxy. The percentage of mesopelagic particulate organic carbon (POC) remineralisation as calculated from estimated POC remineralisation fluxes over integrated remotely sensed PP was ∼2-fold higher south of the polar front (19 ± 15 %, n=39) than north of the polar front (10 ± 10 %, n=29), revealing the higher surface carbon export efficiency further south. By linking integrated remotely sensed PP to mesopelagic Baxs stock, we could obtain better estimates of carbon export and remineralisation signals within the SO on annual and basin scales.
  • An indicator of sea ice variability for the Antarctic marginal ice zone.

    Vichi, Marcello (2022)
    The Cryosphere
    Remote-sensing records over the last 40 years have revealed large year-to-year global and regional variability in Antarctic sea ice extent. Sea ice area and extent are useful climatic indicators of large-scale variability, but they do not allow the quantification of regions of distinct variability in sea ice concentration (SIC). This is particularly relevant in the marginal ice zone (MIZ), which is a transitional region between the open ocean and pack ice, where the exchanges between ocean, sea ice and atmosphere are more intense. The MIZ is circumpolar and broader in the Antarctic than in the Arctic. Its extent is inferred from satellite-derived SIC using the 15 %–80% range, assumed to be indicative of open drift or partly closed sea ice conditions typical of the ice edge. This proxy has been proven effective in the Arctic, but it is deemed less reliable in the Southern Ocean, where sea ice type is unrelated to the concentration value, since wave penetration and free-drift conditions have been reported with 100% cover. The aim of this paper is to propose an alternative indicator for detecting MIZ conditions in Antarctic sea ice, which can be used to quantify variability at the climatological scale on the ice-covered Southern Ocean over the seasons, as well as to derive maps of probability of encountering a certain degree of variability in the expected monthly SIC value. The proposed indicator is based on statistical properties of the SIC; it has been tested on the available climate data records to derive maps of the MIZ distribution over the year and compared with the threshold-based MIZ definition. The results present a revised view of the circumpolar MIZ variability and seasonal cycle, with a rapid increase in the extent and saturation in winter, as opposed to the steady increase from summer to spring reported in the literature. It also reconciles the discordant MIZ extent estimates using the SIC threshold from different algorithms. This indicator complements the use of the MIZ extent and fraction, allowing the derivation of the climatological probability of exceeding a certain threshold of SIC variability, which can be used for planning observational networks and navigation routes, as well as for detecting changes in the variability when using climatological baselines for different periods.
  • Using seabird and whale distribution models to estimate spatial consumption of krill to inform fishery management.

    Warwick-Evans, V.; Kelly, N.; Dalla Rosa, L.; Friedlaender, A.; Hinke, J. T.; Kim, J. H.; Kokubun, N.; Santora, J. A.; Secchi, E. R.; Seyboth, E.; et al. (2022)
    Ecosystem dynamics at the northwest Antarctic Peninsula are driven by interactions between physical and biological processes. For example, baleen whale populations are recovering from commercial harvesting against the backdrop of rapid climate change, including reduced sea ice extent and changing ecosystem composition. Concurrently, the commercial harvesting of Antarctic krill is increasing, with the potential to increase the likelihood for competition with and between krill predators and the fishery. However, understanding the ecology, abundance, and spatial distribution of krill predators is often limited, outdated, or at spatial scales that do not match those desired for effective fisheries management. We update current knowledge of predator dependence on krill by integrating telemetry-based data, at-sea observational surveys, estimates of predator abundance, and physiological data to estimate the spatial distribution of krill consumption during the austral summer by three species of Pygoscelis penguin, 11 species of flying seabirds, one species of pinniped, and two species of baleen whale. Our models show that the majority of important areas for krill predator foraging are close to penguin breeding colonies in nearshore areas where humpback whales also regularly feed, and along the shelf-break, though we caution that not all known krill predators are included in these analyses. We show that krill consumption is highly variable across the region, and often concentrated at fine spatial scales, emphasizing the need for the management of the local krill fishery at relevant temporal and spatial scales. We also note that krill consumption by recovering populations of krill predators provides further evidence in support of the krill surplus hypothesis, and highlight that despite less than comprehensive data, cetaceans are likely to consume a significant proportion of the krill consumed by natural predators but are not currently considered directly in the management of the krill fishery. If management of the krill fishery is to be precautionary and operate in a way that minimizes the risks to krill predator populations, it will be necessary in future analyses, to include up-to-date and precise abundance and consumption estimates for pack-ice seals, finfish, squid, and other baleen whale species not currently considered.
  • Determination of Trace Metal (Mn, Fe, Ni, Cu, Zn, Co, Cd and Pb) Concentrations in Seawater Using Single Quadrupole ICP-MS: A Comparison between Offline and Online Preconcentration Setups.

    Samanta, Saumik; Cloete, Ryan; Loock, Jean; Rossouw, Riana; Roychoudhury, Alakendra N. (2021)
    The quantification of dissolved metals in seawater requires pre-treatment before the measurement can be done, posing a risk of contamination, and requiring a time-consuming procedure. Despite the development of automated preconcentration units and sophisticated instruments, the entire process often introduces inaccuracies in quantification, especially for low-metal seawaters. This study presents a robust method for measuring dissolved metals from seawater accurately and precisely using a seaFAST and quadrupole Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer (ICPMS), employed in both offline (2016–2018) and online (2020–2021) setups. The proposed method shows data processing, including the re-calculation of metals after eliminating the instrumental signals caused by polyatomic interferences. Here, we report the blank concentration of Fe below 0.02 nmol kg−1, somewhat lower values than that have been previously reported using high-resolution and triple-quad ICPMS. The method allows for the accurate determination of Cd and Fe concentrations in low-metal seawaters, such as GEOTRACES GSP, using a cost-effective quadrupole ICPMS (Cdconsensus: 2 ± 2 pmol kg−1, Cd measured: 0.99 ± 0.35 pmol kg−1; Fe consensus: 0.16 ± 0.05 nmol kg−1, Fe measured: 0.21 ± 0.03 nmol kg−1). Between two setups, online yields marginally lower blank values for metals based on short-term analysis. However, the limit of detection is comparable between the two, supporting optimal instrumental sensitivity of the ICPMS over 4+ years of analysis.
  • Combining Regional Habitat Selection Models for Large-Scale Prediction: Circumpolar Habitat Selection of Southern Ocean Humpback Whales.

    Reisinger, Ryan R.; Friedlaender, Ari S.; Zerbini, Alexandre N.; Palacios, Daniel M.; Andrews-Goff, Virginia; Dalla Rosa, Luciano; Double, Mike; Findlay, Ken; Garrigue, Claire; How, Jason; et al. (2021)
    Remote Sensing
    Machine learning algorithms are often used to model and predict animal habitat selection— the relationships between animal occurrences and habitat characteristics. For broadly distributed species, habitat selection often varies among populations and regions; thus, it would seem preferable to fit region- or population-specific models of habitat selection for more accurate inference and prediction, rather than fitting large-scale models using pooled data. However, where the aim is to make range-wide predictions, including areas for which there are no existing data or models of habitat selection, how can regional models best be combined? We propose that ensemble approaches commonly used to combine different algorithms for a single region can be reframed, treating regional habitat selection models as the candidate models. By doing so, we can incorporate regional variation when fitting predictive models of animal habitat selection across large ranges. We test this approach using satellite telemetry data from 168 humpback whales across five geographic regions in the Southern Ocean. Using random forests, we fitted a large-scale model relating humpback whale locations, versus background locations, to 10 environmental covariates, and made a circumpolar prediction of humpback whale habitat selection. We also fitted five regional models, the predictions of which we used as input features for four ensemble approaches: an unweighted ensemble, an ensemble weighted by environmental similarity in each cell, stacked generalization, and a hybrid approach wherein the environmental covariates and regional predictions were used as input features in a new model. We tested the predictive performance of these approaches on an independent validation dataset of humpback whale sightings and whaling catches. These multiregional ensemble approaches resulted in models with higher predictive performance than the circumpolar naive model. These approaches can be used to incorporate regional variation in animal habitat selection when fitting range-wide predictive models using machine learning algorithms. This can yield more accurate predictions across regions or populations of animals that may show variation in habitat selection.
  • Variability of Sea-Air Carbon Dioxide Flux in Autumn Across the Weddell Gyre and Offshore Dronning Maud Land in the Southern Ocean.

    Ogundare, Margaret Ojone; Fransson, Agneta; Chierici, Melissa; Joubert, Warren R.; Roychoudhury, Alakendra N. (2021)
    Frontiers in Marine Science
    Sea surface fugacity of carbon dioxide (fCO2ssw) was measured across the Weddell gyre and the eastern sector in the Atlantic Southern Ocean in autumn. During the occupation between February and April 2019, the region of the study transect was a potential ocean CO2 sink. A net CO2 flux (FCO2) of −6.2 (± 8; sink) mmol m–2 d–1 was estimated for the entire study region, with the largest average CO2 sink of −10.0 (± 8) mmol m–2 d–1 in the partly ice-covered Astrid Ridge (AR) region near the coast at 68°S and −6.1 (± 8) mmol m–2d–1 was observed in the Maud Rise (MR) region. A CO2 sink was also observed south of 66°S in the Weddell Sea (WS). To assess the main drivers describing the variability of fCO2ssw, a correlation model using fCO2 and oxygen saturation was considered. Spatial distributions of the fCO2 saturation/O2 saturation correlations, described relative to the surface water properties of the controlling variables (chlorophyll a, apparent oxygen utilization (AOU), sea surface temperature, and sea surface salinity) further constrained the interplay of the processes driving the fCO2ssw distributions. Photosynthetic CO2 drawdown significantly offsets the influence of the upwelling of CO2-rich waters in the central Weddell gyre and enhanced the CO2 sink in the region. FCO2 of −6.9 mmol m–2 d–1 estimated for the Weddell gyre in this study was different from FCO2 of −2.5 mmol m–2 d–1 in autumn estimated in a previous study. Due to low CO2 data coverage during autumn, limited sea-air CO2 flux estimates from direct sea-surface CO2 observations particularly for the Weddell gyre region are available with which to compare the values estimated in this study. This highlights the importance of increasing seasonal CO2 observations especially during autumn/winter to improving the seasonal coverage of flux estimates in the seasonal sea ice-covered regions of the Southern Ocean.
  • Asset Tracking Whales—First Deployment of a Custom-Made GPS/GSM Suction Cup Tag on Migrating Humpback Whales.

    Meynecke, Jan-Olaf; Liebsch, Nikolai (2021)
    Journal Of Marine Science and Engineering
    The study of marine mammals is greatly enhanced through fine scale data on habitat use. Here we used a commonly available asset tracker Global Positioning System/Global Systems for Mobile Communication (GPS/GSM) integrated into a CATS suction cup tag to test its feasibility in providing real time location position on migrating humpback whales in coastal waters of eastern Australia. During two deployments—one on a suspected male and another on a female humpback whale—the tags provided location points with relatively high accuracy for both individuals albeit different swim behavior and surface intervals. In combination with an integrated archival data logger, the tag also provided detailed information on fine scale habitat use such as dive profiles. However, surface intervals were too short to allow for an upload of location data during deployment. Further improvements of the tag design will allow remote access to location data after deployment. Preliminary results suggested location acquisition was better when the tag was positioned well above the midline of the whale body. The technology promises less expensive, more reliable and more accurate short-term tracking of humpback whales compared to satellite relay tags, and it has the potential to be deployed on other marine mammals in coastal waters.
  • The Role of Environmental Drivers in Humpback Whale Distribution, Movement and Behavior: A Review.

    Meynecke, Jan-Olaf; de Bie, Jasper; Barraqueta, Jan-Lukas Menzel; Seyboth, Elisa; Prakash Dey, Subhra; Lee, Serena B.; Samanta, Saumik; Vichi, Marcello; Findlay, Ken; Roychoudhury, Alakendra; et al. (2021)
    Frontiers in Marine Science
    Humpback whales, Megaptera novaeangliae, are a highly migratory species exposed to a wide range of environmental factors during their lifetime. The spatial and temporal characteristics of such factors play a significant role in determining suitable habitats for breeding, feeding and resting. The existing studies of the relationship between oceanic conditions and humpback whale ecology provide the basis for understanding impacts on this species. Here we have determined the most relevant environmental drivers identified in peer-reviewed literature published over the last four decades, and assessed the methods used to identify relationships. A total of 148 studies were extracted through an online literature search. These studies used a combined estimated 105,000 humpback whale observations over 1,216 accumulated study years investigating the relationship between humpback whales and environmental drivers in both Northern and Southern Hemispheres. Studies focusing on humpback whales in feeding areas found preferences for areas of upwelling, high chlorophyll-a concentration and frontal areas with changes in temperature, depth and currents, where prey can be found in high concentration. Preferred calving grounds were identified as shallow, warm and with slow water movement to aid the survival of calves. The few studies of migration routes have found preferences for shallow waters close to shorelines with moderate temperature and chlorophyll-a concentration. Extracting information and understanding the influence of key drivers of humpback whale behavioral modes are important for conservation, particularly in regard to expected changes of environmental conditions under climate change.
  • Interchange of Southern Hemisphere humpback whales across the South Atlantic Ocean.

    Ramos, Eric Angel; Cheeseman, Ted; Marcondes, Milton Cesar C.; Olio, Marilia; Vogel, Alexander; Elwen, Simon; de Melo, Thais H. M.; Facchola, Cecília; Cipolotti, Sérgio; Southerland, Ken; et al. (2023)
    Scientific Reports
    The cosmopolitan distribution of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) is largely driven by migrations between winter low-latitude breeding grounds and summer high-latitude feeding grounds. Southern Hemisphere humpback whales faced intensive exploitation during the whaling eras and recently show evidence of population recovery. Gene flow and shared song indicate overlap between the western (A) and eastern (B1, B2) Breeding Stocks in the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans (C1). Here, we investigated photo-identification evidence of population interchange using images of individuals photographed during boat-based tourism and research in Brazil and South Africa from 1989 to 2022. Fluke images were uploaded to Happywhale, a global digital database for marine mammal identification. Six whales were recaptured between countries from 2002 to 2021 with resighting intervals ranging from 0.76 to 12.92 years. Four whales originally photographed off Abrolhos Bank, Brazil were photographed off the Western Cape, South Africa (feeding grounds for B2). Two whales originally photographed off the Western Cape were photographed off Brazil, one traveling to the Eastern Cape in the Southwestern Indian Ocean (a migration corridor for C1) before migrating westward to Brazil. These findings photographically confirm interchange of humpback whales across the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans and the importance of international collaboration to understand population boundaries.

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