Spatial and temporal structure of the western North Pacific minke whale distribution inferred from JARPN sightings data

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Hiroshi Okamura
Koji Matsuoka
Takashi Hakamada
Makoto Okazaki
Tomio Miyashita


The density of minke whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) in the western North Pacific was examined using a generalized additive model in order to investigate the spatial and temporal distribution patterns. The data used were a subset of JARPN sightings data collected from 1994 to 1999. The process for estimating the density was divided into two parts: the detection process for the estimation of the effective search half-width; and the encounter process for the estimation of the encounter rate. Model selection was carried out using information criteria. The selected model for the detection process included ‘sightability’, a synthetic index of detectability, as a covariate, and for the encounter process included the interaction between latitude and longitude and the interaction between month and latitude. The trend surface of the transformed density predicted by each month revealed no clear gaps. The monthly transition of the density distribution also suggested the northward seasonal feeding migration of the minke whales.

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