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A major feeding ground for cetaceans and seabirds in the south-western Greenland Sea
Joiris, C.R. (2011). A major feeding ground for cetaceans and seabirds in the south-western Greenland Sea. Polar Biol. 34(10): 1597-1607
In: Polar Biology. Springer-Verlag: Berlin. ISSN 0722-4060, more
Peer reviewed article

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Keywords
    Climatic changes; Distribution; Feeding ground; Marine birds; Marine mammals; Spatial variations; Temporal variations; Cetacea [WoRMS]; ANE, Denmark Strait [Marine Regions]; ANE, Greenland Sea [Marine Regions]; Marine

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  • Joiris, C.R., more

Abstract
    In the frame of our long-term study of the distribution of seabirds and marine mammals in polar seas, observers from this team participated in the European Arctic expeditions of icebreaking RV Polarstern during summer 2008. The main aims were to obtain more information on the mechanisms underlying the at-sea distribution of the ‘higher trophic levels’ and to detect possible temporal and spatial changes in numbers, especially in function of climatic changes and decreasing ice coverage in the Arctic. In total, 1,175 half-an-hour transect counts were devoted to seabird and marine mammal distribution in the Greenland and Norwegian Seas, from 14 June to 15 August, 2008. A major feeding ground for cetaceans and seabirds was detected in the south-western Greenland Sea and the Denmark Strait in the Polar Front between Polar and Arctic Water masses. For the main cetacean and seabird species, almost all individuals recorded during the whole expedition were encountered in this limited zone of 33 counts: 135 humpback whales Megaptera novaeangliae and 1,940 common guillemots Uria aalge. Moreover, 4,400 fulmars Fulmarus glacialis light morph were observed in this zone, i.e. close to half of the total. All were actively feeding, making this zone the major feeding ground for the higher trophic levels in the European Arctic Seas and so confirming the great importance of fronts (upwellings) for the biological productivity of the oceans. Such data are essential for a successful conservation and management of the Denmark Strait and adjacent areas.

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