Rodrigo Hucke-Gaete

I currently work as a professor at the place where I obtained my degree on Marine Biology and a Dr.Sc. in Ecology: Universidad Austral de Chile in Valdivia, Chile. I am also Director of a small local NGO, the Blue Whale Center ( and proud member of the CSG and Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Commission.

I am interested in marine mammal ecology and conservation biology, broadly integrating knowledge from several sub-disciplines to better understand and protect marine systems. I am especially keen on using this understanding to support decision-making that solves environmental problems. My main research interests are: (i) investigating the role of marine mammals using ecological indicators for determining ecosystem state and health, (ii) understanding multi-scale processes in determining ecological patterns of pelagic predators using habitat assessment tools such as satellite tracking, remote sensing and GIS and (iii) unveiling the effects of past and present anthropogenic impacts on marine ecosystems, while also trying to propose adequate solutions.

My early work centered on ship-based surveys for cetaceans throughout Chile’s oceanic islands and the Southern Ocean, while later I focused on the population dynamics and other ecological aspects of Antarctic fur seals at Cape Shirreff, South Shetland Islands, Antarctica. A large focus of my recent work has revolved around large whales in southern Chile, mainly investigating the largest of them all, the blue whale. While we consolidate a marine mammal research program in Chilean Patagonia, we aim at strongly promoting the establishment of Marine Protected Areas in Chile, which are a tool for conserving not only cetaceans but the ecosystem as a whole.


Hucke-Gaete, R., L.P. Osman, C.A. Moreno, K.P. Findlay & D.K. Ljungblad (2004). Discovery of a blue whale feeding and nursing ground in southern Chile. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. Ser. B 271: S170–S173.

Osman, L.P., R. Hucke-Gaete, C.A. Moreno & D. Torres (2004). Feeding ecology of the Antarctic fur seal at Cape Shirreff, South Shetlands, Antarctica. Polar Biology 27: 92-98.

Hucke-Gaete, R., L.P. Osman, C.A. Moreno & D. Torres (2004) Examining natural population growth from near extinction: the case of the Antarctic fur seal at the South Shetlands, Antarctica. Polar Biology 27: 304-311.

Hucke-Gaete, R., C.A. Moreno & J.A. Arata (2004). Operational interactions between cetaceans and the Patagonian toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides) industrial fishery off southern Chile. CCAMLR Science 11: 127-140.

Moreno, C.A., J. A. Arata, P. Rubilar, R. Hucke-Gaete & G. Robertson (2006) Artisanal longline fisheries in Southern Chile: Lessons to be learned to avoid incidental seabird mortality. Biological Conservation 127: 27-36.

Branch, T.A., K.M. Stafford, D.M. Palacios, C. Allison, J.L. Bannister, C.L.K. Burton, E. Cabrera, C.A. Carlson, B. Galletti Vernazzani, P.C. Gill, R. Hucke-Gaete, K.C.S. Jenner, M-N.M. Jenner, K.

Matsuoka, Y.A. Mikhalev, T. Miyashita, M.G. Morrice, S. Nishiwaki, V.J. Sturrock, D. Tormosov, R.C. Anderson, A.N. Baker, P.B. Best, P. Borsa, R.L. Brownell Jr, S. Childerhouse, K.P. Findlay, T. Gerrodette, A.D. Ilangakoon, M. Joergensen, B. Kahn, D.K. Ljungblad, B. Maughan, R.D. McCauley, S. Mckay, T.F. Norris, Oman Whale and Dolphin Research Group, S. Rankin, F. Samaran, D. Thiele, K. van Waerebeek & R.M. Warneke (2007). Past and present distribution, densities and movements of blue whales in the Southern Hemisphere and adjacent waters. Mammal Review 37(2): 116-175.

Buchan, S., L. Rendell & R. Hucke-Gaete (2009). Preliminary recordings of blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) vocalizations in the Gulf of Corcovado, northern Patagonia, Chile. Marine Mammal Science 26(2): 451-459.

Viddi, F.A., R. Hucke-Gaete, J.P. Torres-Florez & S. Ribeiro (2010). Spatial and temporal variability of cetacean distribution in the fjords of northern Patagonia, Chile. ICES Journal of Marine Science 67: 959-970.

Olavarría, C., J. Acevedo, H. Vester, J. Zamorano-Abramson, F. Viddi, J. Gibbons, E. Newcombe, J. Capella, A.R. Hoelzel, M. Flores, R. Hucke-Gaete & J.P. Torres-Flórez (2010). Southernmost distribution of common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in the Eastern South Pacific. Aquatic Mammals 36(3): 288-293. DOI 10.1578/AM.36.3.2010.288

Hucke-Gaete, R. (2011). Whales might also be an important component in Patagonian fjord ecosystems: Reply to Iriarte et al. AMBIO 40(1): 104-105. DOI 10.1007/s13280-010-0110-8.

Viddi, F.A., R.G. Harcourt, R. Hucke-Gaete, I.C. Field (2011). Fine–scale movement patterns of the sympatric Chilean and Peale’s dolphins in the northern Patagonian fjords, Chile. Marine Ecology Progress Series 436: 245-256. Doi:10.3354/meps09251.

Torres-Florez, J.P., R. Hucke-Gaete, H. Rosenbaum & C. C. Figueroa (2012). Isolation and characterization of nine new polymorphic microsatellite loci for blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus). Conservation Genetics Resources 4(4):1023-1025. DOI 10.1007/s12686-012-9698-2.

Reyes, P. R. Hucke-Gaete & J.P. Torres-Florez (2012). First observations of operational interactions between bottom-trawling fisheries and South American sea lion, Otaria flavescens in south-central Chile. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 93(2): 489-494. DOI: 10.1017/S0025315412001282.

Hucke-Gaete, R., D. Haro, J. P. Torres-Florez, Y. Montecinos, F.A. Viddi, L. Bedriñana & J. Ruiz (2013). A historical feeding ground for humpback whales in the Eastern South Pacific revisited: the case of northern Patagonia, Chile. Aquatic Conservation: Marine & Freshwater Ecosystems. DOI: 10.1002/aqc.2343.**

Acevedo, J., D. Haro, L. Dalla-Rosa, A. Aguayo-Lobo, R. Hucke-Gaete, E. Secchi, J. Plana & L.A. Pastene (2013). Potential isolation among feeding grounds of the Eastern South Pacific humpback whale population. Endangered Species Research 22: 33-38. DOI: 10.3354/esr00536.

Buchan, S.J., R. Hucke-Gaete, L. Rendell & K. Stafford (2014). A new song recorded from blue whales in the Corcovado Gulf, Southern Chile, and an acoustic link to the Eastern Tropical Pacific. Endangered Species Research 23: 241-252. doi: 10.3354/esr00566

Torres-Florez, J.P., R. Hucke-Gaete, H. Rosenbaum & C. Figueroa (2014). High genetic diversity in a small population: the case of Chilean blue whales. Ecology and Evolution 4(8): 1398–1412. doi: 10.1002/ece3.998

Bedriñana-Romano, L., F.A. Viddi, J.P. Torres-Florez, J. Ruiz, M.F. Nery, D. Haro, Y. Montecinos & R. Hucke-Gaete (2014). At-sea abundance and spatial distribution of South American Sea Lion (Otaria byronia) in Chilean Northern Patagonia: how many are there. Mammalian Biology 79: 384-392.

Buchan, S.J., K.M. Stafford & R. Hucke-Gaete (2014). Seasonal occurrence of southeast Pacific blue whale songs in southern Chile and the eastern tropical Pacific. Marine Mammal Science 23: 241-252. DOI: 10.1111/mms.12173.

Hucke-Gaete, R., A. Aguayo-Lobo, S. Yankovic-Pakarati & M. Flores (2014). Marine mammals of Easter Island (Rapa Nui) and Salas y Gómez Island (Motu Motiro Hiva), Chile: a review and new records. Latin American Journal of Aquatic Research 42(4): 743-751.

Torres-Florez, J.P., R. Hucke-Gaete, R. LeDuc, C. Figueroa, A. Lang, B. Taylor, L.E. Pimper, L. Bedriñana-Romano & H.C. Rosenbaum (2014). Blue whale population structure along the Eastern South Pacific Ocean: evidence for multiple populations. Molecular Ecology. DOI: 10.1111/mec.12990.

Viddi, F., R.G. Harcourt & R. Hucke-Gaete (2015). Identifying key habitats for the conservation of Chilean dolphins in the fjords of southern Chile. Aquatic Conservation: Marine & Freshwater Ecosystems. DOI: 10.1002/aqc.2553.

Torres-Florez, J.P., P.A. Olson, L. Bedriñana-Romano, H. Rosenbaum, J. Ruiz, R. LeDuc & R. Hucke-Gaete (2015). First documented migratory destination for Eastern South Pacific blue whales. Marine Mammal Science. DOI: 10.1111/mms.12239.

LeDuc, R.G., E.I. Archer, A.R. Lang, K.K. Martien, B. Hancock-Hanser, J.P. Torres-Florez, R. Hucke-Gaete, H.R. Rosenbaum, K. van Waerebeek, R.L. Brownell, B.L. Taylor (2017). Genetic variation in blue whales in the Eastern Pacific: implication for taxonomy and use of common wintering grounds. Molecular Ecology 26: 740-751. doi:10.1111/mec.13940

Buchan, S.J., R. Hucke-Gaete, K.M. Stafford & C.W. Clark (2018). Occasional acoustic presence of Antarctic blue whales on a feeding ground in southern Chile. Marine Mammal Science 34(1): 220-228.

Bedriñana-Romano, L., R. Hucke-Gaete, F.A. Viddi, J, Morales, R. Williams, E. Ashe, J. Garcés-Vargas, J.P. Torres-Florez, J.E. Ruiz (2018). Integrating multiple data sources for assessing blue whales abundance and distribution in Chilean Northern Patagonia. Diversity and Distributions 24(7): 991-1004. DOI: 10.1111/ddi.12739.

Hucke-Gaete, R., L. Bedriñana-Romano, F. Viddi, J. Ruiz, J.P. Torres-Florez & A. Zerbini (2018). From Chilean Patagonia to Galapagos, Ecuador: novel insights on blue whale migratory pathways along the Eastern South Pacific. PeerJ 6:e4695. doi: 10.7717/peerj.4695.

Schall. E., L. Di Iorio, C. Berchok, D. Filún, L. Bedriñana-Romano, S.J. Buchan, I. Van Opzeeland, R. Sears, R. Hucke-Gaete (2019). Visual and passive acoustic observations of blue whale trios from two distinct populations. Marine Mammal Science. DOI: 10.1111/mms.12643.