Background

In a recent publication in PNAS, “Memory and resource tracking drive blue whale migrations” (Abrahms et at. 2019), we compared 10 years (1999-2008) of blue whale movements with the timing of the spring phytoplankton bloom (which leads to increased whale prey) in the California Current Ecosystem to show how blue whales track resource waves during the feeding season. The complete tracking data set, which includes 143 animals tagged between 1993 and 2008, has previously been used in a number of publications, as listed in the Movebank Repository README.txt file file. The paper by Bailey et al. (2009) provides a good entry point to the data set, and we continue to use it new studies. However, with the publication of the PNAS paper we felt it was timely to formally publish the data set and make it more widely available, and we chose to do so in a Movebank Data Repository (Mate et al. 2019). The data also can be viewed on Movebank (Movebank Study ID: 650188969, “Blue whales Eastern North Pacific 1993-2008 - Argos Data”).

Both the PNAS paper and the Movebank Study received some attention in social media. On February 28, 2019 a Twitter post by @MovebankTeam advertising the availability of the data elicited a response from @AniMove encouraging us to post an animation of the movements and corresponding ocean conditions using the fantastic moveVis R package by @schwalbwillmann: