Behaviour and habitat selection of bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus) in Northern Foxe Basin, Nunavut

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Thomas, T. A.
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This is the first study of the behaviour and habitat preferences of bowhead whales ('Balaena mysticetus') in northern Foxe Basin, Nunavut, Canada. The study is divided into two parts; the first part examined the characteristics of bowhead habitat and the second part describes the behaviour of bowheads during the ice-edge season. Characteristics of bowhead habitat were identified by quantifying relationships between habitat variables (water depth, surface temperatures, ice conditions, and zooplankton densities) and the distribution of whales recorded during strip-transect surveys through a 4 x 4 km quadrat system, in July and August 1997. Two study areas were examined: "A" was examined in July (ice-edge season), when land-fast ice was present on the northern edge of the study area and "B" was examined in August (open-water season), when pack ice is present. Relationships between habitat variables and whale distribution were identified with Mantel tests. The second part of the study examined the behavior of bowheads during the ice-edge. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)