Humpback whales in the Turks and Caicos, Caribbean
North Atlantic humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) migrate annually between their summer feeding grounds in the North Atlantic and their winter breeding grounds in the Caribbean and West Indies. The largest known breeding and calving areas for this population are off the coasts of the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.
However, little is known about humpback residency in the waters off the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI). Once believed to be an area only transited by humpback whales, preliminary research conducted by WDC provides evidence that humpbacks establish residency and display breeding behaviours in the waters off TCI. WDC researchers have documented 170 whale sightings, 38% of which were of lactating females and new born calves from both the US Gulf of Maine (GOM) and Newfoundland feeding stocks. Individuals were documented on more than one occasion and over two consecutive years with one cow-calf pair resident for 25 days, suggesting these waters are an important nursery ground.
We hope to secure funding to continue documenting habitat use in TCI and to work with the TCI government to further protect the whales in these waters.