Bowhead Coastal Observation Project - Chukotka

Partner: North Slope Borough (J. Craig George  and Cyd Hanns)
Collaborators: Dr. Vladimir Melnikov, Russian Academy of Sciences; Eduard Zdor, Association of Marine Mammal Hunters of Chukotka; Gennady Zelensky, Chukotka Science Support Group; Denis Litovka, ChukoTINRO
Funding: NMFS, NPS, NSB-DWM
Summary: Subsistence hunting of marine mammals is a vital cultural and nutritional resource to Alaskan and Chukotkan Natives. The NSB DWM has been involved in cooperative studies of bowheads and other marine mammals with Native (Eskimo and Chukchi) hunters in coastal Chukotka since the early 1990s. We have a particular shared concern regarding monitoring the population and health status assessment of large whales (gray and bowhead) harvested for subsistence, as well as for responding to concerns related to the International Whaling Commission (IWC) which is the international entity that provides aboriginal whaling oversight. The Chukotkan bowhead hunt is conducted through a bi-lateral agreement between the US and Russia.

This project focuses on continuing study of distribution and abundance of the Bering Chukchi Beaufort Seas bowhead whale population and documented marine mammal sightings off the coast of Chukotka from 2010-2012. Continuing observations fill a critical need in continuing the nearly 20-year program, especially now when the effects of climate changes are causing rapid changes in the ecosystem. This research parallels research in Alaska, both of which provide information on regional bowhead populations. Locations of observations in Russia are Uelen and Sereniki.

The North Slope Borough Department of Wildlife Management is working closely with Native subsistence hunters, U.S. and Russian scientists to support coastal observations with documentation of bowhead and other marine mammals off Chukotka. Project management in Chukotka is led by ATMMHC in collaboration with the network set in place during the last 5 years funded by NMFS, NPS, and DWM. Project funding is transferred each year to Chukotka through ATMMHC who works closely with Dr. Melnikov, CSSG, ChukotTINRO, VIRO, the Russian Federation, and traditional hunters to plan and perform coastal observations off Chukotka.

For more information on the continuing projects with the National Park Service Shared Beringia Heritage Program visit their website, , go to Projects and Research, then “Find a Project” and click on the year in which the project was selected for funding.

2010 Field Season Progress Report

2010-2011 Field Season Progress Report

Final report: in progress

Biosampling of Gray and Bowhead Whales - Chukotka

Partner: North Slope Borough (Todd O'Hara)
Collaborators: Dr. Vladimir Melnikov, Russian Academy of Sciences; Eduard Zdor, Association of Marine Mammal Hunters of Chukotka; Gennady Zelensky, Chukotka Science Support Group; Denis Litovka, ChukoTINRO
Funding: Shared Beringian Heritage Program, National Park Service for 2003-2006
Summary: The Borough's Department of Wildlife Management will continue their pioneering studies funded by previous NPS projects to work with Russian Native organizations to sample whales along the coast of Chukotka for contaminants.

For more information on the continuing projects with the National Park Service Shared Beringia Heritage Program visit their website, go to Projects and Research, then “Find a Project” and click on the year in which the project was selected for funding.

Final report: in progress

Spanning the Bering Strait: 20 years of Collaborative Research. Shared Beringian Heritage Program, National Park Service, U.S. Dept of Interior.