Fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus) and humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae)

Marine mammals 2013
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Fin whales and humpback whales are the second and third most abundant baleen whales in the Barents Sea, respectively. Both are fast-swimming, migratory species that over-winter in the south and occupy the Barents Sea during the productive summer months. The summer activity of these whales is dominated by feeding and during most of the winter; they are thought to fast while they are breeding. In the Barents Sea, fin whales generally inhabit deeper areas along

the continental slope, west of Spitsbergen and in Storfjorden trough; in recent years, they have also been observed in the central and northern Barents Sea (Skern-Mauritzen et al., 2008). Humpback whales are highly migratory and are found in all the world’s oceans. Although heavily depleted by earlier commercial whaling, they have shown strong recoveries both in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. The North Atlantic stock is believed to have increased considerably in the past 10-15 years. In the Barents Sea their distribution is generally north of the Polar Front in the western and central regions. They are regularly sighted around Svalbard as far north as Lågøya northeast of Spitsbergen (NPI Marine Mammal Sighting Data Base). Recently, they have also been seen with increasing frequency deep into fjords on Svalbard from early summer until late fall (Kovacs and Lydersen, personal observations, NPI Marine Mammal Sighting Data Base). The current situation, with a high Atlantic cod abundance and reduced capelin abundance, may impact the whales (and seals – see above) negatively through resource competition (Bogstad et al., 2015).