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Decade-long study of Pacific predators shows importance of biological 'hotspots'
Date:6/22/2011

art of a blue whale is the size of a small automobile. Scientists say the blue whale is the largest creature to ever inhabit the Earth and it is one of the loudest animals in the sea, capable of making sounds equivalent to those of a jet engine, though at frequencies below human hearing.

Mate and his colleagues also tracked a fin whale for more than a year as part of the TOPP research.

"It did nothing that we expected," he said with a laugh. "Usually, we think large whale species go south for the winter and north in the summer, but this whale spent its winter in the Gulf of Alaska and didn't go south until spring when it went as far south as the tip of Baja, but returned back to the Gulf of Alaska without stopping anywhere. In total, the whale made four trips through a 30-kilometer wide area off Vancouver Island, suggesting a preference for a very precise corridor.

"It's hard to generalize about whale behavior with a small sample size," Mate said. "But that's the value of tracking animals over the years through efforts like the TOPP program. We learn about patterns and variability and inevitably, we learn something we never knew before and often times it is really fundamentally different that what we thought we would find."

Among the Pacific Ocean predators tracked by researchers in addition to whales and tuna were several species of sharks, leatherback sea turtles, two species of albatross, sooty shearwaters, Northern elephant seals and California sea lions.


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Contact: Bruce Mate
Bruce.Mate@oregonstate.edu
541-867-0202
Oregon State University
Source:Eurekalert

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