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Volume 81, Issue 3 (May 2017)


Southern right whales (Eubalaena australis) off Torres, Brazil: group characteristics, movements, and insights into the role of the Brazilian-Uruguayan wintering ground

Daniel Danilewicz
  • Corresponding author
  • Instituto Aqualie. Av. Dr. Paulo Japiassu Coelho n 714, Sala 206, Juiz de Fora, MG, 36033-310, Brazil
  • Grupo de Estudos de Mamíferos Aquáticos do Rio Grande do Sul (GEMARS), Rua Machado de Assis, 1456, Osório, RS, 95520-000, Brazil
  • Programa de Pos Graduação em Zoologia, Universidade Estadual de Santa Cruz (UESC), Rod. Ilhéus-Itabuna, km 16, s/n, Ilhéus, BA, 45662-900, Brazil
  • Email:
/ Ignacio B. MorenoORCID iD: http://orcid.org/0000-0003-3618-9928
  • Laboratório de Sistemática e Ecologia de Aves e Mamíferos Marinhos (LABSMAR), Departamento de Zoologia, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil
  • Centro de Estudos Costeiros, Limnológicos e Marinhos (CECLIMAR/IB/UFRGS), Av. Tramandaí n 976, Imbé, RS, 95625-000, Brazil
  • ORCID iD: http://orcid.org/0000-0003-3618-9928
/ Maurício Tavares
  • Centro de Estudos Costeiros, Limnológicos e Marinhos (CECLIMAR/IB/UFRGS), Av. Tramandaí n 976, Imbé, RS, 95625-000, Brazil
/ Federico Sucunza
  • Instituto Aqualie. Av. Dr. Paulo Japiassu Coelho n 714, Sala 206, Juiz de Fora, MG, 36033-310, Brazil
  • Grupo de Estudos de Mamíferos Aquáticos do Rio Grande do Sul (GEMARS), Rua Machado de Assis, 1456, Osório, RS, 95520-000, Brazil
  • Programa de Pos Graduação em Ecologia, Universidade Federal de Juiz de Fora. R. Jose Lourenco Kelmer, Juiz de Fora, MG, 36036-900, Brazil
Published Online: 2016-04-19 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/mammalia-2015-0096


The southern right whale (SRW), Eubalaena australis, was heavily depleted by the whaling in the Southern Hemisphere. In the southwestern Atlantic, studies on SRWs have been concentrated in two main breeding grounds: Península Valdés, Argentina (~42°′S) and Santa Catarina (SC) State, Brazil (~28°′S). To better understand the ecology of SRWs in the region located between these breeding grounds, shore-based surveys were carried out off Torres (29°19′S, 49°43′W), Rio Grande do Sul (RS). Whales were observed in the area between July and October with peaks in August and September. Group sizes were relatively small (x̅=1.6; range=1–3). Distribution in relation to distance from the coast varied from 0.5 to 8.9 km (median=1.9 km). Unlike in other areas, mother-calf pairs were not observed to occur in shallower waters more often than unaccompanied whales. Mother-calf pairs presented northbound movements to SC more frequently than unaccompanied whales. A comparison of the present data with those from Uruguay and SC revealed that SRWs of different gender/reproductive status may use distinctively the eastern coast of South America. Within these regions, the proportion of mother-calf pairs increases progressively as latitude decreases (from 8% in Uruguay to 58.5% in SC), while the proportion of unaccompanied SRWs presents an opposite trend. This study indicates that RS is an important area for reproduction of SRWs because the three phases (birth, nursing, and mating) proposed for a breeding ground occur there.

Keywords: cetacean; distribution; ecology; shore-based surveys; southern Brazil


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About the article

Received: 2015-06-08

Accepted: 2016-03-09

Published Online: 2016-04-19

Published in Print: 2017-05-01

Citation Information: Mammalia, ISSN (Online) 1864-1547, ISSN (Print) 0025-1461, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/mammalia-2015-0096. Export Citation

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