University of Alaska Fairbanks, College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, Fisheries Department, Juneau Center, 17101 Pt. Lena Loop Road, Juneau, Alaska 99801, USA. Electronic address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Developing a better understanding of the stress response is critical to ensuring the health and sustainability of marine mammal populations. However, accurately measuring and interpreting a stress response in free-ranging, large cetaceans is a nascent field. Here, an enzyme immunoassay for corticosterone was validated for use in biopsy samples from male humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae). Analyses were conducted on 247 male North Pacific humpback whale blubber samples, including 238 non-calves and 9 calves that were collected on the Hawaiian breeding and Southeast Alaskan feeding grounds from 2004 to 2006. Significant relationships were found when corticosterone concentrations were examined by year, age class and distribution between locations. When examined by year, corticosterone concentrations for male humpback whales were higher in Hawaii in 2004 than in 2005 and 2006 (p