Follow the track of a migrating humpback ....update.

28th Jul 2010 Report III, 27/07/10

Phillip Clapham, NOAA reports....." Apparently our female humpback has found a restaurant - at least that would be my interpretation of the sudden change in her track. She's in an area just west of Rockall, which is a major fishing ground. Hopefully this won't mean she'll ditch the tag, which is always a risk once they start feeding.... "

IWDG are delighted to have the opportunity to provide regular updates on the northbound track of this migrating female humpback whale as she moves towards summer feeding grounds. Unfortunately she is now clearly bypassing Ireland, although still close to our EEZ, and remains on course for cooler Norwegian waters.

This humpback, fitted with a satellite tag in early May off Guadeloupe, in the Caribbean is moving up the mid-Atlantic ridge. There is no evidence that the attached satellite tag is impacting on her progress. The results of this important research is providing US based whale researchers with unique insights into the movements of these long distance travellers.

A humpback whale, which was fitted with a satellite tag in Guadeloupe, Lesser Antilles, Caribbean is moving up the mid-Atlantic ridge towards the west coast of Ireland.

The map shows the track of a female humpback whale migrating north towards summer feeding grounds. She was tagged in early May and is currently c600 miles off the Irish West Coast along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and travelling at an average speed of 50 miles each day.

Given her track lines over the past 10 days it is unlikely that she will divert east towards Irish waters and is likely to be heading towards Bear Island, northern Norway where she has been observed in previous years.

The tag provides updates on her position every two days and will hopefully last for many more months enabling us to get unique information on humpback movements in the North Atlantic.

Many thanks to Phil Clapham of NOAA in the US for keeping us informed of this exciting study.

Phil Clapham, leader of National Marine Mammal Laboratory's Cetacean Assessment and Ecology Program reports ......

"It is assumed she's heading towards Arctic Feeding grounds off Bear Island in North Norway but she's nowhere near home yet!" This humpback is on a two-day reporting schedule (odd days), so we won't hear anything else till the 21st July."... It is unclear as to how long the tag will stay attached, but the researchers are optimistic that it will work long enough to complete her return voyage.

That said she is only 600 miles off the Irish West Coast, and with recent humpback sightings from the Irish Sea and North coasts, whose to say that she won't take a detour to the Emerald Isle?

But such real time data shows the value of satellite tagging of these highly mobile marine mammals, which cover vast expanses of ocean as they migrate between tropical breeding grounds and high latitude feeding grounds. IWDG have disappointingly been declined a licence from the Irish Government (Dept. of the Environment) to satellite tag fin whales in Irish waters.

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