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Humpback Whales in Hawaiian Waters: A Study in Historical Ecology

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Title: Humpback Whales in Hawaiian Waters: A Study in Historical Ecology
Authors: Herman, Louis M.
Issue Date: Jan 1979
Publisher: University of Hawaii Press
Citation: Herman LM. 1979. Humpback whales in Hawaiian waters: a study in historical ecology. Pac Sci 33(1): 1-15.
Abstract: Several hundred humpback whales, Megaptera novaeangliae,
assemble each winter to mate and calve in the nearshore waters adjoining the
main islands of Hawaii. Their behavior provides a spectacular display for shore
observers and passing boaters. Historical evidence suggests that this population
of whales invaded its current Hawaiian habitat only within the last 200 years,
and was unknown to the Hawaiians of the pre-European discovery era before
1778. Possible mechanisms for the presumptive recent invasion include dispersion
from other areas, accelerated by chronic whaling pressure, and long-term
changes in locations of major North Pacific watermasses affecting preferred
surface temperature characteristics. A number of short-term local changes in
preferred sites within the Hawaiian habitat have apparently occurred in the
last 125 years in response to shore-based whaling activities during the midnineteenth
century, disturbances to the marine environment during World
War II, and offshore effects of the poststatehood construction boom on Oahu
after 1959. The major habitat shift and the various local site alterations were
seen as adaptive responses of the whales to changes in important physical or psychological characteristics of their assembly areas.
ISSN: 0030-8870
Appears in Collections:Pacific Science Volume 33, Number 1, 1979

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