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For the first time, the complete migratory journey of a Southern Right Whale was recorded by satellite in Argentina

For the first time, the complete migratory journey of a Southern Right Whale was recorded by satellite in Argentina

Papillon, means Butterfly in French. An unusual name for a Southern Right Whale, an animal of the sea. But that was the nickname chosen by the team of scientists who placed a satellite device six months ago in the Golfo Nuevo, Chubut, so that together with other specimens of these marine mammals, they could provide important information on migratory routes and areas of feeding. After being tagged, this juvenile male quickly left (flew) and scientists could only learn of his movements from the satellite device.

During the season when right whales (Eubalaena australis) visit the waters of Peninsula Valdés, in Chubut, to reproduce and raise their calves, this first experience was carried out to implant devices that allow satellite monitoring.

The five specimens that were fitted with the transmitters show considerable diversity in their journeys. Two of them stopped sending data when they were in the waters of the South Georgia Islands, an area believed to be one of the main feeding areas for this population. The other three whales spent time on the edge of the continental slope.

But the young male named “Papillón” recorded the longest trajectory of all tagged whales, and stayed all the time near the edge of the Argentine continental shelf, approximately 300 miles from Peninsula Valdés, during the six months that he was at sea. open.

In May of this year, the satellite device indicated that Papillón began its return to the waters of the New Gulf, which it finally arrived last week.


This information is extremely valuable since it allows to know for the first time, the complete migratory path of a specimen of this species from one season (2014) to the other (2015).

The project responds to recommendations of the International Whaling Commission (IWC), in which Argentina plays a fundamental role, developing a Management Plan for the Conservation (CMP) of the Southern Right Whale.

The initiative is possible thanks to the joint work of several organizations: Wildlife Conservation Society, the Aqualie Institute of Brazil, the Patagonia Natural Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) of the United States, the Whale Conservation Institute, Ocean Alliance, the University of California Davis in the US and the Fundación Vida Silvestre Argentina.

It also has the water safety assistance of the Argentine Naval Prefecture and the Government of the Province of Chubut approved the implementation of the project and acts through the Directorate of Wild Fauna and Flora dependent on the Ministry of Territorial Development and Productive Sectors, the Ministry of Environment and Control of Sustainable Development and the Secretariat of Tourism and Protected Areas.

Natural Patagonia


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