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    Visual and passive acoustic observations of blue whale trios from two distinct populations
    (Wiley, 2019-09-03) Schall, Elena ; Di Iorio, Lucia ; Berchok, Catherine L. ; Filún, Diego ; Bedriñana-Romano, Luis ; Buchan, Susannah J. ; Van Opzeeland, Ilse ; Sears, Richard ; Hucke-Gaete, Rodrigo
    Blue whale populations from both hemispheres are thought to undertake annual migrations between high latitude feeding grounds and low latitude breeding grounds (Mackintosh, 1966). For individuals of some populations these predetermined movements to and from wintering areas where calving occurs have been confirmed through photo‐identification, satellite‐tracking, and passive acoustic monitoring (Burtenshaw et al., 2004; Mate, Lagerquist, & Calambokidis, 1999; Sears & Perrin, 2002; Stafford, Nieukirk, & Fox, 1999a). However, for many blue whale populations no clear migratory behavior has been reported and locations of respective breeding grounds remain unclear (e.g., Hucke‐Gaete, Osman, Moreno, Findlay, & Ljungblad, 2004; Samaran et al., 2013; Stafford, Chapp, Bohnenstiel, & Tolstoy, 2011; Thomisch et al., 2016). On feeding grounds in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and along the coast of California, blue whales have been observed to form female–male pairs during summer, which can remain stable up to over several weeks, with the number of pairs increasing towards the end of summer (Sears & Perrin, 2002; Calambokidis, unpublished data;1 RS, unpublished data). These pairs are sometimes joined by a second male, forming a blue whale trio, which often is observed to engage in surface active behaviors lasting several minutes (Sears & Perrin, 2002; RS, unpublished data). The formation of blue whale trios is probably related to reproductive competition between male escorts and female choice (RS, unpublished data). Blue whale males produce population‐specific songs likely functioning as reproductive advertisement (Edds‐Walton, 1997; Oleson et al. 2007a; Stafford, Fox, & Clark, 1998). Several studies have reported song year‐round in low‐, mid‐, and high‐latitude waters, frequently with high song production rates during summer on the feeding grounds (e.g., Barlow et al., 2018; Buchan, Stafford, & Hucke‐Gaete, 2015; Samaran, Adam, & Guinett, 2010; Širović et al., 2004; Stafford, Nieukirk, & Fox, 1999b; Thomisch et al., 2016). Therefore, breeding activities in blue whales may be more opportunistic, i.e., not restricted to the breeding season or to a specific habitat.