Center for Coastal Studies Becomes First to Track Southbound Whale Migration

PROVINCETOWN – The Center for Coastal Studies has experienced yet another first in its ongoing research of various whale species.

The center now announces that using satellite-monitored radio tags, it became the first research group to ever track a southbound Humpback Whale migration in real time.

Since 2011, the CCS Humpback Whale Studies team has been using satellite-monitored radio tags to better understand humpback whale movement and habitat use.

Tags provide far greater detail than more traditional photo-based studies, and past tagging projects have revealed the existence of entirely unknown whale habitats, demonstrating that this ever-improving technology is an important tool for whale conservation.  

In July 2018, CCS researchers tagged a female humpback whale named Bounce. Throughout the summer Bounce ranged widely throughout the feeding grounds in the Gulf of Maine, traveling as far north as the Bay of Fundy; she spent Christmas Day and New Year’s Day foraging east of Cape Cod.

On January 9 Bounce left New England waters; on February 6 she arrived at the humpback breeding grounds off the Dominican Republic, a journey of almost 4,000 km (2,500 miles). If her tag continues to operate, her tracked movements in the Caribbean will add to our understanding of how humpback whales use their breeding grounds.

CCS also monitors tagged whales beyond the breeding season to evaluate whale and tag status and determine what, if any, the longer term effects of tags are on their host.

By TIM DUNN, News Center 

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