Tokyo's Hachijojima May Be Humpback Whale's New Northernmost Breeding Region


Tokyo, Jan. 21 (Jiji Press)--Japanese researchers now see the possibility of the northernmost breeding region for humpback whales having shifted far northward to around Tokyo's Hachijojima island.

Waters off Kagoshima Prefecture's Amami Oshima island, some 500 kilometers south of Hachijojima, have been known as the northernmost breeding region for humpback whales, which are popular among whale watchers for their dynamic jumps and spouting.

But since November 2015, when a Hachijojima resident found a pod of humpback whales near the island for the first time, an increasing number of the baleen whale species have been spotted in the waters, according to Gen Nakamura, assistant professor at Tokyo University of Marine Science.

In a joint research project with the Hachijo town government, Nakamura and colleagues found that the number of humpback whales spotted off the island increased to 151 in the winter 2017-spring 2018 season from 60 a year earlier. So far this season, the team has already confirmed over 100 whales.

Humpback whales give birth to cubs in warm waters near Japan, including those around the southernmost prefecture of Okinawa and Amami Oshima, from winter to spring. The whales then spend the summer in waters near the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia, where there is plenty of food.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press