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SOLAMAC - Sociedade Latino Americana de Especialistas em Mamíferos Aquáticos

Biblioteca virtual  -  Artigos dos membros da SOLAMAC

From Whaling to Whale Watching: Cetacean Presence and Species Diversity in the Galapagos Marine Reserve
. From Whaling to Whale Watching: Cetacean Presence and Species Diversity in the Galapagos Marine Reserve. Science and Conservation in the Galapagos Islands: Frameworks & Perspectives. 1 (): 217-235. 2013.

Before the Galapagos Archipelago became famous thanks to Darwin’s work on the theory of natural selection, it already was a hub in the global economy as an eighteenth-century whaling ground. Now a marine reserve, Galapagos is one of the most popular destinations for nature tourism and whale observations in the world. Over the last two decades, tour guides and researchers have contributed their occasional whale and dolphin sightings to a whale database with sighting records from 1993 to 2010, which we analyze here. We use presence/absence data of different species to assess the impact of El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycles and associated surface water temperature variations on the cetacean community in the Galapagos. We also describe the occurrence patterns of the 12 most common species in detail. Finally, we photographically identify 17 orcas in four pods and follow their distribution within the Galapagos Marine Reserve (GMR). According to their presence from June to November, humpback and blue whales show a strong affinity for the Southeast Pacific population, but sightings of all baleen whales throughout the year suggest that there are resident populations in the GMR. Of all cetaceans, bottlenose dolphins are most common and similar to orcas; they seem to be resident to the GMR. Residency of orcas is confirmed by numerous resightings of 17 animals with the longest time span between resightings from 2005 to 2011. The information presented here indicates that Galapagos supports a unique and diverse cetacean fauna that can be reliably observed along the established routes for tourism vessels. This information could form the basis for the establishment of a targeted and responsible whale watching industry.

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