Spatial and seasonal variability in cetacean distribution in the fjords of northern Patagonia, Chile

Francisco A. Viddi, Rodrigo Hucke-Gaete, Juan P. Torres-Florez, Sandra Ribeiro

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    Abstract

    Compared with other Chilean coastal areas, little is known about the diversity and distribution of cetaceans in northern Patagonian fjords. Between December 2000 and November 2001, surveys on platforms of opportunity were undertaken in southern Chile to evaluate species richness and the spatial and seasonal distribution of cetaceans. Nine species were recorded, blue, humpback, and minke whales, Peale's dolphin, Chilean dolphin, killer whale, false killer whale, bottlenose dolphin, and Cuvier's beaked whale. The pattern of cetacean distribution displayed significant seasonal differences, with most baleen whales (mysticetes) observed during late summer and autumn, and toothed cetaceans (odontocetes) mostly during spring. Generalized additive models, used to assess the spatial distribution of cetaceans, showed that mysticetes were distributed disproportionately along a north–south gradient, in open gulfs with oceanic influence, and close to shore. In contrast, odontocetes were observed mainly within narrow channels, areas with complex coastal morphology, peaking at different water depths. These findings, although from a single year of data, increase our understanding of habitat determinants of cetacean distribution in southern Chile. The results have the potential to be applied to coastal conservation and management in the region.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)959-970
    Number of pages12
    JournalICES Journal of Marine Science
    Volume67
    Issue number5
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2010

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    Keywords

    • Balaenoptera musculus
    • Cephalorhynchus eutropia
    • cetacean distribution
    • Chilean fjords
    • generalized additive models
    • Lagenorhynchus australis
    • spatial distribution

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