Examination of Health Effects and Long-Term Impacts of Deployments of Multiple Tag Types on Blue, Humpback, and Gray Whales in the Eastern North Pacific
CASCADIA RESEARCH COLLECTIVE OLYMPIA WA
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Despite extensive use of implant tags for more than 30 years, only limited studies have been conducted of the health effects and long-term consequences of tag deployments on whales. This field is rapidly expanding including increased use of deep penetration tags on many populations including critically endangered populations such as the North Pacific right whale and the western gray whale. Studies of North Atlantic rights whales revealed a wide variety of conditions of the tag site after deployments of penetration tags varying from very minor divots to more extensive swellings. Our goal is to provide new insights into the long term consequences of different types of tags on several additional species of large whales including blue, humpback, and gray whales by conducting long term follow up of previously tagged individuals in the eastern North Pacific. We examine the long term impacts on health, reproduction, and mortality unitizing the past deployments of implant and suction cup tags on blue, humpback, and gray whales in the eastern North Pacific and our extensive monitoring of these populations.