Using the Continuous Plankton Recorder to investigate the absence of North Atlantic right whales (Eubalaena glacialis) from the Roseway Basin foraging ground
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KeywordEubalaena glacialis; Roseway Basin; Calanus finmarchicus; Continuous Plankton Recorder; Habitat requirements
North Atlantic right whales (Eubalaena glacialis) abandoned Roseway Basin, located off southeastern Nova Scotia, for a seven-year period (1993-1999). The objective of this study was to examine the availability of the right whale’s main prey, Calanus finmarchicus, in Roseway Basin during the abandonment to determine if right whales left this region due to inadequate prey resources. Since we had no historical data on zooplankton abundances at depth on the Scotian Shelf, near-surface zooplankton abundance data from the Continuous Plankton Recorder were used to infer water column abundances. In addition, environmental parameters that are often correlated with high zooplankton concentrations were examined. The hypotheses tested were that changes in these parameters would be detectable between three time periods: pre-1993, 1993-1999, and post-1999. Calanus finmarchicus abundance was found to be lowest during 1993-1999, confirming that right whales were not foraging in Roseway Basin because of the near-absence of their main prey species. Decreased in situ salinity and density proved to be indicators of the changes in circulation in the 1990s that may have affected the advection of C. finmarchicus onto the Scotian Shelf.
Author Posting. © The Authors, 2010. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of Oxford University Press for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Journal of Plankton Research 32 (2010): 1685-1695, doi:10.1093/plankt/fbq073.
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