BOWFEST - Bowhead Whale Feeding Ecology Study in the Western Beaufort Sea

Principal Investigators:  Dave Rugh,  J. Craig George, Ph.D.
Collaborators: Woods Hole, NMML, ADF&G (through 2009), Gay Sheffield (UAF-Northwest Campus)
Funding: BOEMRE
Reports and Summaries: See below. All bowhead stomach samples used in the study were collected from subsistence-harvested whales under NMFS permit #814-1899-03.

Five bowhead whales feeding, three in semi-echelon formation with a pair following, offshore Cooper Island in 2006. (Photo credit: Julie Mocklin)

Five bowhead whales feeding, three in semi-echelon formation with a pair following, offshore Cooper Island in 2006. (Photo credit: Julie Mocklin)

Photo of a whale in September 2005 off of Cooper Island. The whale is defecating (Iñupiat term: agviq anaktuaq) which is a strong indication the animal was feeding. (Photo credit: J. Craig George)

Photo of a whale in September 2005 off of Cooper Island. The whale is defecating (Iñupiat term: agviq anaktuaq) which is a strong indication the animal was feeding. (Photo credit: J. Craig George)

BOWFEST 2007 Annual Report This document includes these reports:

  • Goetz, K.T., D.J. Rugh, and J.A. Mocklin. Aerial surveys of bowhead whales in the vicinity of Barrow, Alaska, August-September 2007.
  • Stafford, K. and D. Mellinger. Passive acoustic monitoring.
  • Ashjian, C. S. Okkonen, and R. Campbell. Mooring and broad-scale oceanography.
  • Baumgartner, M. et al. Tagging and fine-scale oceanography.
  • Sheffield, G. and J.C. George. Bowhead whale harvest sampling.

BOWFEST 2008 Annual Report This document includes these reports:

  • George, J.C., and G. Sheffield. 2008. Examinations of bowhead stomach contents and local boat surveys.

BOWFEST 2009 Annual Report This document includes these reports:

  • Goetz, K.T., D.J. Rugh, and J.A. Mocklin. Aerial surveys of bowhead whales in the vicinity of Barrow, August-September 2009.
  • Berchok, C. et al. Passive acoustic monitoring in the western Beaufort Sea.
  • Ashjian, C. S. Okkenon, and R. Campbell. Mooring and broad-scale oceanography.
  • Baumgartner, M. Tagging and fine-scale oceanography.
  • George, J.C., and G. Sheffield. Examinations of bowhead stomach contents and local boat surveys.

Krill Trap - read this blog for the story, or read more here.

Mooring and broad-scale oceanography

hookLine
Hooking a float and line to retrieve a bottom-mounted mooring containing instruments. (Photo credit: BOWFEST crew)

Pulling an oceanographic mooring aboard the Annika Marie which was deployed in mid-August and recovered in mid-September. (Photo credit: BOWFEST crew)

Pulling an oceanographic mooring aboard the Annika Marie which was deployed in mid-August and recovered in mid-September. (Photo credit: BOWFEST crew)

On board the boat, the Annika Marie, the mooring contains an upward-looking RDI acoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP) and a SeaBird microcat. These instruments measure the wind and current speeds and directions.(Photo credit: BOWFEST crew)

On board the boat, the Annika Marie, the mooring contains an upward-looking RDI acoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP) and a SeaBird microcat. These instruments measure the wind and current speeds and directions.(Photo credit: BOWFEST crew)

Washing jelly fish pulled up in the Tucker trawl. (Photo credit: BOWFEST crew)

Washing jelly fish pulled up in the Tucker trawl. (Photo credit: BOWFEST crew)

The R/V Annika Marie is used in the mooring and broad-scale oceanography studies for BOWFEST. (Photo credit: BOWFEST crew)

The R/V Annika Marie is used in the mooring and broad-scale oceanography studies for BOWFEST. (Photo credit: BOWFEST crew)

A research buoy floating on the surface after being released from the ocean floor. (Photo credit: BOWFEST crew)

Aerial and Local Boat Surveys

Numerous blows from bowheads surrounding a local survey boat. (Photo credit: Kate Stafford)

Numerous blows from bowheads surrounding a local survey boat. (Photo credit: Kate Stafford)

Sightings of whales in study area by local boat surveys in 2008. (Source: Ashjian)

Bowhead whales feeding in echelon formation just northeast of Barrow. Echelon feeding has rarely been photographed. (Photo credit: Linda Vate Brattström and Kim Goetz, National Marine Mammal Lab, AFCS, NMFS, NOAA, FFW Permit No. 782-1719-09)

Bowhead whales feeding in echelon formation just northeast of Barrow. Echelon feeding has rarely been photographed. (Photo credit: Linda Vate Brattström and Kim Goetz, National Marine Mammal Lab, AFCS, NMFS, NOAA, FFW Permit No. 782-1719-09)

George, J.C. et al. 2013. Hunter based observations of bowhead and gray whales near Barrow, Alaska. Poster presentation at the Alaska Marine Science Symposium, January 2013, Anchorage, Alaska.

Stomach Contents Analysis

Bowhead whale stomach full of copepods from fall subsistence harvest in Kaktovik. You can see the sheen of oil, which comes from the copepods, on the surface of the stomach fluid. (Photo credit: Gay Sheffield).

Bowhead whale stomach full of copepods from fall subsistence harvest in Kaktovik. You can see the sheen of oil, which comes from the copepods, on the surface of the stomach fluid. (Photo credit: Gay Sheffield).

Both pictures above show stomachs full of krill (euphausiids) in subsistence-harvested bowhead whale during the fall subsistence hunt in Barrow.

Both pictures above show stomachs full of krill (euphausiids) in subsistence-harvested bowhead whale during the fall subsistence hunt in Barrow. Photos: Craig George

amss2013 Dehn isotopes and  bowhead feeding
Horstmann-Dehn, L., C. George, and G. Sheffield. 2013. Can stable isotopes ratios identify feeding events in bowhead whales? Poster presentation at the Alaska Marine Science Symposium, January 2013, Anchorage, Alaska.

BOWFEST 5 Year Review

5 year review BOWFEST
Rugh, D. 2013. Bowhead whale feeding ecology study (BOWFEST): Five years in review. Poster presentation at the Alaska Marine Science Symposium, January 2013, Anchorage, Alaska.

BOWFEST Final Report

Shelden, K.E.W., J.A. Mocklin, Editors. 2013. Bowhead whale feeding ecology study (BOWFEST) in the western Beaufort Sea. Final Report, OCS Study BOEM 2013-0114. National Marine Mammal Laboratory, Alaska Fisheries Science Center, NMFS, NOAA, Seattle, WA.

Banner photo credit: Carin Ashjian