Presentation Title

Identifying The Behaviors of Humpback Whales (Megaptera Novaeangliae) at Mating Grounds in Guerrera, Mexico

Project Collaborators

Eric Ramos

Abstract

Humpback whales are often thought of as non-social animals. However, at their breeding ground in tropical waters they are reported to interact among themselves and with other marine species. Here I used video footage from unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) collected by collaborators in Guerrero, Mexico to study humpback whale intra and interspecific social behavior. Videos were analyzed in BORIS to estimate social behavior frequency and duration between conspecifics and other species. Only good quality videos were included in this study. Our preliminary results show intraspecific interactions were most common and showed interactions between mother-calf pairs and competitive groups of mating males pursuing females. Interspecific interactions included whales chasing dolphins, sea turtles, and stingrays. This study shows that humpback whales’ repertoire of social interactions is more diverse than previously thought. Future studies of humpback whale habitat usage should incorporate UAS (unmanned aerial systems) to their data collection.

Primary Faculty Mentor Name

Laura May-Collado

Status

Undergraduate

Student College

College of Arts and Sciences

Program/Major

Zoology

Primary Research Category

Biological Sciences

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Identifying The Behaviors of Humpback Whales (Megaptera Novaeangliae) at Mating Grounds in Guerrera, Mexico

Humpback whales are often thought of as non-social animals. However, at their breeding ground in tropical waters they are reported to interact among themselves and with other marine species. Here I used video footage from unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) collected by collaborators in Guerrero, Mexico to study humpback whale intra and interspecific social behavior. Videos were analyzed in BORIS to estimate social behavior frequency and duration between conspecifics and other species. Only good quality videos were included in this study. Our preliminary results show intraspecific interactions were most common and showed interactions between mother-calf pairs and competitive groups of mating males pursuing females. Interspecific interactions included whales chasing dolphins, sea turtles, and stingrays. This study shows that humpback whales’ repertoire of social interactions is more diverse than previously thought. Future studies of humpback whale habitat usage should incorporate UAS (unmanned aerial systems) to their data collection.