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The first identified winter feeding ground of fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus) in the Mediterranean Sea
Canese, S.; Cardinali, A.; Fortuna, C.M.; Giusti, M.; Lauriano, G.; Salvati, E.; Greco, S. (2006). The first identified winter feeding ground of fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus) in the Mediterranean Sea. J. Mar. Biol. Ass. U.K. 86(4): 903-907
In: Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. Cambridge University Press/Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom: Cambridge. ISSN 0025-3154, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keywords
    Feeding migrations; Geographical distribution; New records; Nursery grounds; Balaenoptera physalus (Linnaeus, 1758) [WoRMS]; MED, Italy, Lampedusa I. [Marine Regions]; Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Canese, S.
  • Cardinali, A.
  • Fortuna, C.M.
  • Giusti, M.
  • Lauriano, G.
  • Salvati, E.
  • Greco, S.

Abstract
    The presence of fin whales in the Mediterranean Sea has been documented since ancient times. In spite of this, reliable information on their ecology and distribution is limited to the north-western part of the basin. Recent genetic studies have demonstrated that Mediterranean fin whales comprise a separate population with very limited gene flow with their North Atlantic co-specifics. Although both published and anecdotal information reports their presence in the south central Mediterranean during winter, there is no information on habitat use. In February 2004, a 14-day boat survey was carried out in the waters surrounding the island of Lampedusa, where fin whales occur at this time of the year. A total of 20 fin whale groups (average group size two animals) were encountered. In each encounter the animals were engaged in surface feeding activity. From plankton samples and underwater video, the prey species was identified as the Euphausiid, Nyctiphanes couchi. The information obtained suggests that this area may be an important winter feeding ground for fin whales. The results represent significant new information on fin whale ecology in the Mediterranean, with associated conservation and management implications.

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