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The relationship between summer aggregation of fin whales and satellite-derived environmental conditions in the northwestern Mediterranean Sea
Littaye, A.; Gannier, A.; Laran, S.; Wilson, J.P.F. (2004). The relationship between summer aggregation of fin whales and satellite-derived environmental conditions in the northwestern Mediterranean Sea. Remote Sens. Environ. 90(1): 44-52
In: Remote Sensing of Environment. Elsevier: New York,. ISSN 0034-4257, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keywords
    Primary production; Remote sensing; Balaenoptera physalus (Linnaeus, 1758) [WoRMS]; Mediterranean [Marine Regions]; Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Littaye, A.
  • Gannier, A.
  • Laran, S.
  • Wilson, J.P.F.

Abstract
    Few studies have tried to explain the summer distribution pattern of fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus) in the northwesternMediterranean Sea, an area characterized with heterogeneous and transient hydrobiological features. Satellite imagery was used to gainknowledge on primary biomass over large time and space scales and to process environmental variables of significance to the problem of finwhale distribution.Fin whale distribution was obtained from survey data and expressed into sightings per unit of effort. Net primary production (g C/m²/day),NPP, can be estimated with a model by processing remote-sensed measurements of chlorophyll concentration, provided by SeaWIFS DAAC.NPP was integrated over different temporal scales, related to primary production cycles in the area. Additional variables were derived fromsea surface temperature (AVHRR/NOAA sensors).Multiple cross-correlation coefficients were calculated between these environmental parameters and the fin whale summer distributionfrom 1998 to 2002. A predictive model, the potential grouping index, was developed from this statistical approach.This study improves our understanding of the variability of fin whale distribution in summer. While food availability at a particular timeand place is a function of environmental conditions in the previous months, this study provides evidence that whales adapt their movementsand group size directly to food availability rather than to instantaneous environmental conditions.

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