Balaenoptera acutorostrata

On the spatial-temporal distribution of the minke whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata and B. bonaerensis) in the Wider Caribbean Region and adjacent western tropical North Atlantic

Until recently, minke whale sightings in the northern Atlantic Ocean (NA) were thought to belong
exclusively to the common species Balaenoptera acutorostrata (CMW). Historical records confirm
the presence of the CMW in the north-eastern Caribbean Sea during the winter months. However,
the Antarctic minke whale (B. bonaerensis) (AMW) has been recently confirmed in the NA and
Gulf of Mexico. We review and summarize the available records of both species to shed light on
their spatial–temporal occurrence in the Wider Caribbean Region and adjacent NA (WCR-NA).
We revised the literature, searched the internet (social networks and video-hosting websites),
downloaded records available in biodiversity platforms, and added visual and acoustical records
from the authors’ files. Finally, we used oceanographic model databases to search for patterns in
spatial–temporal distribution. We collected 130 records, where 128 (98.4%) were classified as
CMW, and 2 (1.6%) as AMW. Most (100, 76.9 %) records were contributed by scientists or
scientific studies, while 30 (23.1%) stemmed from citizen-science. Records included visual
sightings (71.5%), acoustic detections (16.2%), strandings (11.5%), and direct takes (0.8%). Most
records belong to the northern Caribbean (50.0%), eastern Caribbean north of Martinique (30.8%),
the Gulf of Mexico (10.0%), and the NA (9.2%), and were collected during the winter (66.2%) and
(early) spring (28.5%) months, especially over the Caribbean upwelling season (December-March,
83.8%). Most of the CMW records correspond to three types of water masses, and also seemed to
associate with extreme climatic events such as El Niño/La Niña. Calves/juveniles were recorded
only on 6 occasions (4.6%). Low primary productivity during migration may limit feeding
opportunities for these whales. Increases in large-scale visual and acoustical surveys, and citizenbased
initiatives has resulted in better availability of minke whale records within the study area.
Our review confirms the WCR-NA as a wintering ground of North Atlantic CMW.

Data type
Research report
Education and outreach
Research and monitoring
Report number
Geographic location
Saba bank
St. Eustatius
St. Maarten