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See detailBehavioural response of southern right whales (Eubalaena australis) to anthropogenic approaches in Bahía San Antonio, Río Negro Argentina
Cammareri, Alejandro; Vermeulen, Els ULg

in Report to the International Whaling Commission (2010)

The behavioural response of southern right whales (SRWs) to human approaches was studied in Bahia San Antonio, Río Negro Argentina, to obtain essential information for the evaluation of a recent ... [more ▼]

The behavioural response of southern right whales (SRWs) to human approaches was studied in Bahia San Antonio, Río Negro Argentina, to obtain essential information for the evaluation of a recent authorized whale-based tourism and the implementation of accurate regulations and conservation measurements. A total of 50 SRW groups were approached with a small zodiac during the whale-seasons (June-October) of 2008 and 2009, accounting for a total of 39h of behavioural observations. The approaches occurred in a slow and controlled way up to a minimum distance of 100m. A focal animal observation (instantaneous point sample) was used to record three mutual exclusive behavioural states: rest, travel and socializing and/or aerial activity. Groups (chosen ad random) consisted out of solitary animals (0.52), Surface Active Groups (SAG; 0.32) and non-SAGs (0.13). Nevertheless, because of the low amount of data, up to now all behavioural responses were analysed regardless group composition. Results indicated that whales continued travelling during an approach, but doubled their time resting after an approach had finished (22% → 40%) and decreased drastically their time socializing or aerially active (21% → 2%). Although the probability that a whale remained in a social/aerially active behaviour when affected by anthropogenic approaches decreased notably (-22%), no significant effect could be found up to now (Z-test for 2 proportions, p>0.05), probably due to the relative small dataset. Nevertheless, the apparent change in SRW social behaviour requires urgently more detailed information to implement conservation strategies regulating adequately the commercial whale-based tourism in the area. [less ▲]

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See detailHistorical records of southern right whales (Eubalaena australis) of the province Río Negro, North Patagonia, Argentina (1991-2008)
Failla, Mauricio; Vermeulen, Els ULg; Cammareri, Alejandro

in Report to the International Whaling Commission (2008)

The increase of the southern right whale (SRW Eubalaena australis) population might rise questions about the reoccupation of previous sites. This report is a compilation of historical records of SRWs ... [more ▼]

The increase of the southern right whale (SRW Eubalaena australis) population might rise questions about the reoccupation of previous sites. This report is a compilation of historical records of SRWs along the coast of the Río Negro province, Northeast Patagonia, to evaluate the tendency of their occurrence in the area over the past decade. A total of 308 records (425 whales) were collected over distinct coastal regions in Northeast Patagonia. The majority of sightings were concentrated between the months July-October with a peak in August-September as was observed similarly in South Brazil, Uruguay and central Patagonia. Groups consisted out of 2 individuals on average whereas mother and calf pairs could be observed in only 11% of the sightings. There was a general increase in sightings over the subsequent years possibly explained by a cause-response relation of increasing sightings and increasing effort. The information presented in this report could suggest a similar hypothesis of reoccupation in the province of Río Negro, Argentina, as was suggested to be occurring along the southeastern coast of Brazil, Uruguay and the Santa Cruz province of Argentina. Data are too preliminary however, to determine the importance of this area for the reproduction and/or migration of this species. Nevertheless, the presented data completes an evolving database of the presence of SRWs along the whole Patagonian coast as was recommended by the International Whaling Commission in 2001. More data and systematic effort is needed to obtain the information on the ecology of SRWs in the Río Negro province, needed for the implementation of conservation measurements in the waters of the provincial jurisdiction, specially in the touristic area of the Natural Protected Area Bahía San Antonio. [less ▲]

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See detailA photo-identification catalogue of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in Northeast Patagonia, Argentina: A tool for the conservation of the species
Vermeulen, Els ULg; Cammareri, Alejandro; Failla, Mauricio

in Report to the International Whaling Commission (2008)

A photo-identification study of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) was performed in the northern Gulf of San Matías, Patagonia Argentina, during the period 2006-2008. In total, 199 surveys were ... [more ▼]

A photo-identification study of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) was performed in the northern Gulf of San Matías, Patagonia Argentina, during the period 2006-2008. In total, 199 surveys were conducted with an average observation effort of 4.2h (SD=1.5) per survey. These surveys resulted in a total observation effort of 824.7h of which 105.7h was spend with 158 dolphin groups. Over 12,500 pictures were analysed using the automatic identification systems FinEx and FinMatch (EuroPhlukes Initiative, Leiden University, The Netherlands), resulting in the first identification catalogue of 47 dolphins for the North Patagonian region. The catalogued dolphins were re-identified up to 13 days with 57% (n=47) showing a degree of residency for the Natural Protected Area Bahía de San Antonio (NPABSA; resighting frequency (RF)≥4). At least 6 dolphins, including one mother with her calf, were additionally re-identified inside the estuary of the river ‘Rio Negro’, 250km east, indicating that their home-range includes at least the whole northern region of the Gulf of San Matias. Data suggest that it concerns a stable but yet unknown population of bottlenose dolphins with a high touristic potential and an urgent need of conservation measurements. The obtained photo-identification catalogue is meant to serve as a tool for the conservation of the species and the realization environmental education projects in the region. [less ▲]

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See detailSouthern right whales (Eubalaena australis): a new touristic attraction in the Natural Protected Area Bahía de San Antonio, Northeast Patagonia?
Cammareri, Alejandro; Vermeulen, Els ULg

in Report to the International Whaling Commission (2008)

In Argentina, the southern right whale (SRW Eubalaena australis) was declared a ‘Natural Monument’ in 1984, protecting the species in waters under national jurisdiction. In the Northeast Patagonian ... [more ▼]

In Argentina, the southern right whale (SRW Eubalaena australis) was declared a ‘Natural Monument’ in 1984, protecting the species in waters under national jurisdiction. In the Northeast Patagonian province Río Negro, the SRW is being protected since 1997 by the provincial law 3130. Recently in 2006, this province declared the SRW as a ‘Natural Monument’ in the waters under their jurisdiction by the provincial law 4066. With this law, a commercial whale-watching activity was approved and regulated strictly by provincial authorities, as was the first legalization on ‘immersion with whales’ in Argentina. Data on the sighting frequency (SF), group size and group composition of SRWs were obtained during a preliminary study from March 2007 to February 2008 in the Natural Protected Area Bahía de San Antonio (NPABSA), the most touristic coastal town of this Northeast Patagonian province. Data indicate a peak SF in September with an explicit increase and decrease in the months before and after respectively. The majority of the whales visiting the area were solitary animals (47.7%) followed by non-surface active groups (non-SAG’s; 25%), mothers and calves (M&C; 20.5%) and SAG’s (4.5%). 2.3% of the whale groups could not be classified. Whales in the study area were mainly resting or in a slow travelling behaviour (64%). 22% of the whales were seen socializing whereas only few groups were believed to be engaged in a courtship behaviour (5%). These data might suggest that the area is not a main reproductive area, possibly favouring the region for a whale-based tourism. On the other hand, the unpredictability of their daily presence and the average distance between the whale and the shore raises questions on the viability of such a whale-based business. [less ▲]

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