This ADFG website links to the most recent map showing the locations of the satellite-tagged bowhead whales (Bering-Chukchi-Beaufort Seas stock) as well as more information and reports on the project. Click here for archives back to 2011. Thanks to John Citta of ADF&G for producing and distributing these maps.

Reports and Articles on Satellite Telemetry of Bowhead Whales:

Quakenbush, L., et al. 2012. Seasonal movements of the Bering-Chukchi-Beaufort Stock of Bowhead Whales: 2006-2011 Satellite Telemetry Results. Presented to the 64th International Whale Commission. SC/64/BRG1. 

Citta, J.J., et al. 2015. Ecological characteristics of core-use areas used by Bering-Chukchi-Beaufort (BCB) bowhead whales, 2006-2012. Progress in Oceanography 136:201-222.

2012 Bowhead Satellite Tagging Season

Tom Akeya and his crew from Savoonga tagged two bowhead whales south of St. Lawrence Island. One whale was tagged on 21 April but did not transmit. The second tag (Ptt 37280; whale B12-1) was deployed on 24 April; this tag is transmitting well and has good battery power. These are the first bowhead whales tagged near St. Lawrence Island.  Congratulations to Tom Akeya Crew for their success.  Crew members include Travis Lyn Akeya, Walker Craft, Joe Akeya and David Akeya. On 29 April 2012, a 45 foot bowhead was tagged (Ptt 93090; whale B12-2) near Gambell by Clarence Irrigoo, Jr., Courtney Iworrigan, Tony Iworrigan, Kenneth R. Iworrigan, Edgar Campbell, Wilmer Campbell, and Victor Campbell.

We would also like to thank Merlin Koonooka (Gambell) and George Noongwook (Savoonga) for helping to coordinate tagging operations on St. Lawrence. Thanks to John Citta of ADF&G for producing and distributing these maps. Click on the dates to see maps.

May 1, 2012: The whale tagged by the Savoonga whalers (B12-1, red track) moved north towards Barrow as of May 1, 2012. The whale tagged by whalers from Gambell (B12-2, yellow track) followed the same path.

May 7, 2012: Bowhead whale B12-1, tagged at Savoonga, migrated northeast of Barrow, Alaska, as of 7 May 2012. We did not receive a transmission from B12-2, tagged at Gambell, since 1 May.  It was stormy in the Bering Sea and we receive fewer transmissions in such weather.

May 18, 2012: Bowhead whale B12-1, tagged by Savoonga whalers, reached Amundsen gulf by 18 May 2012 and was located at the edge of the landfast ice that was plugging the gulf.  We received a single location from bowhead whale B12-2 (tagged by Gambell whalers).  It appeared that this whale passed Point Barrow and may have travelled down a flaw lead adjacent to the landfast sea ice that is north of the Alaskan coast.

June 15, 2012: Both bowhead whales (B12-1 and B12-2) are located in Amundsen Gulf, Canada as of 15 June 2012.

July 2, 2012: Bowhead whale B12-1 remains in Amundsen Gulf while whale B12-2 passed west of Barrow, Alaska, and continued westward as of 2 July 2012.

July 9, 2012: Bowhead whale B12-1 remained in Amundsen Gulf, south of Banks Island as of 9 July 2012.  Bowhead whale B12-2 traveled far north of Wrangel Island up to 78.3 degrees north, under fragmented but continuous sea ice.  This is the first satellite-tagged bowhead whale of the Western Arctic Stock to travel this far north, this early in the year.  In 2009, B09-1 traveled to 75.9 degrees north latitude on 20 September, when the area was ice-free.  There is virtually no knowledge of whales using this area in July as there are no whaling villages nearby and Yankee whalers could not penetrate this far into the sea ice.

July 23, 2012: Bowhead whale B12-1 remained in Amundsen Gulf and bowhead whale B12-2 remained approximately 750 km (466 miles) north of Wrangel Island as of 23 July 2012.

August 6, 2012: Bowhead whale B12-1 headed west in the vicinity of Cape Bathurst, approximately 200 km (125 miles) northwest of Tuktoyaktuk, Canada and bowhead whale B12-2 was approximately 550 km (340 miles) north of Wrangel Island as of 6 August 2012.

August 15, 2012: Bowhead whale B12-1 was located off Cape Bathurst, approximately 217 km (135 miles) northwest of Tuktoyaktuk, Canada as of 15 August 2012. Bowhead whale B12-2 migrated to the coast of Chukotka, Russia, approximately 200 km (125 miles) south of Wrangel Island.  For some reason B12-2 did not transmit often while the whale was migrating, so no locations for this whale since last observed north of Wrangel Island.  **Instead of an ice chart, this map uses SSMIS (Special Sensor Microwave Imager/Sounder) data from the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System.  This data is provided by the University of Bremen (http://www.iup.uni-bremen.de:8084/ssmis/index.html) and is considered “experimental.”  There is little error checking, so there may be regions with sea ice that this satellite does not detect.

August 15, 2012: On 12 August, Clarence Irrigoo and Waldimar Campbell’s whaling crews tagged a gray whale offshore of Gambell, on Saint Lawrence Island.  The gray whale (G12-1) was approximately 30 feet long and was tagged within ¼ mile of shore.  The whale remained in the vicinity since tagging as of 15 August 2012.  Because this whale did not move very far, the attached map shows locations (red dots) instead of track lines. In addition to the whale tagged, five other gray whales were photographed and four were biopsied.  The photos will be compared with gray whales photographed in Russia, California, and Mexico to learn more about gray whale populations and movements.

August 27, 2012: Bowhead whale B12-1 moved southwest, towards Hershel Island, between Kaktovik and Tuktoyaktuk as of 27 August 2012.  Bowhead whale B12-2 was still located along the northern Russian coast. Interestingly, the gray whale (G12-1, green track) that was tagged at Gambell, St. Lawrence Island, moved from the Russian coast to the Diomede Islands, and circled back towards Gambell.

September 10, 2012: Bowhead whale B12-1 moved west, towards Point Barrow and bowhead whale B12-2 was moving eastbound, towards Alaska as of 10 September 2012.  The gray whale G12-1 was located on the southeast shore of St. Matthew Island.

September 17, 2012: Two bowhead whales were tagged offshore of Point Barrow on 10 September. The first whale (B12-3, orange track) was 45 feet long and tagged by Billy Adams and his crew; the second (B12-4, blue track) was 50 feet long and tagged by Harry Brower, Jr., and his crew (including Craig George). Both tags were transmitting well as of 17 September 2012. Three of these whales (B12-1, B12-3, and B12-4) were near Barrow and headed west-northwest. Bowhead whale B12-2 last transmitted on 10 September near the Russian coast in the southern Chukchi.  This tag typically did not yield many locations per day and often goes off the air for multiple days. The gray whale G12-1 was still near St. Matthew Island, travelling up and down the coast.

September 24, 2012: A 45-foot bowhead whale was tagged near Barrow on 21 September. The tagging crew included Billy Adams, Herbert Toovak, Robin Jonah Kaleak, Wilbur William Leavitt, Harry Brower III, Isaac Leavitt, Joe Skin, and Craig George.  The tag B12-5 (pink on the map) is an oceanographic tag, produced by the Sea Mammal Research Unit in St. Andrew’s Scotland (see:  http://www.smru.st-and.ac.uk/Instrumentation/CTD/).  It will record more detailed data on the shape of individual dives than our usual tags.  The tag will also collect data on temperature and salinity (saltiness) at different depths and locations, which will help us identify areas bowhead whales may be feeding. These are the locations as of 24 September 2012.

September 26, 2012: Four of the tagged bowhead whales were located in the vicinity of the Chukchi Lease Sale Area as of 26 September 2012. This map shows the location of the lease area and daily ice extent. The gray whale was still transmitting near St. Matthew Island (not shown).

October 3, 2012: The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) provided us with the locations of this year’s proposed drilling sites and these are shown as green stars on the attached map.  We do not know which sites are active or the level of activity.  Bowhead whale B12-1 (changed from red to blue track; B12-4 changed from blue to green track) passed within 12 km (7.5 miles) of the northern-most drilling site.  Between 24 September and 2 October, this whale was mostly within 33 km (20 miles) of this drilling site. On 2 October, the whale started moving north and it is currently located 74 km (46 miles) north of the closest site.  Another bowhead whale, B12-5 (pink track), passed within 54 km (34 miles) of the closest drilling site, but did not linger in the area. Bowhead whale B12-2 (yellow track) moved into the central Chukchi Sea and was located 162 km (100 miles) southeast of Wrangel Island.

October 17, 2012: The five bowhead whales were all still located in the central Chukchi as of 17 October 2012. Unlike other years, the bowhead whales appear to be lingering in the central Chukchi and were not migrating directly from Barrow to the northern Russian coast. Sea ice was forming along the Russian coast, so it was interesting to see if the whales would proceed to the Russian coast farther south or pass directly into the Bering Sea this winter. The gray whale (not shown) was still transmitting and was located near Khatyrka, Russia (approximately 62 N, 176 E).

The gray whale G12-1 last transmitted on 16 October, near Khatyrka, Russia (approximately 62 N, 176 E). This map shows the gray whales movements from 12 August to 8 October 2012.

Three of the tagged bowhead whales, B12-1, B12-3 and B12-5, were still located within the central Chukchi Sea as of 31 October 2012, and sea ice continued to form along the Russian coast.

Three of the tagged bowhead whales, B12-1, B12-3 and B12-5, were still located within the central Chukchi Sea as of 31 October 2012, and sea ice continued to form along the Russian coast.

As of 7 November 2012, two bowhead whales, B12-1 and B12-3, were located along the ice edge, north of Bering Strait.

As of 7 November 2012, two bowhead whales, B12-1 and B12-3, were located along the ice edge, north of Bering Strait.

Three bowhead whales were still in the Chukchi Sea, northwest of the Diomede Islands as of 28 November 2012. Bowhead whale B12-4 (green track), tagged at Barrow on 10 September, started transmitting again.

Three bowhead whales were still in the Chukchi Sea, northwest of the Diomede Islands as of 28 November 2012. Bowhead whale B12-4 (green track), tagged at Barrow on 10 September, started transmitting again.

Two bowhead whales, B12-1 and B12-3, moved into the Bering Sea and were due north of Gambell as of 13 December 2012.

Two bowhead whales, B12-1 and B12-3, moved into the Bering Sea and were due north of Gambell as of 13 December 2012.

Bowhead whale B12-3 was moving into the Bering Sea as of 3 January 2013 and has travelled farther east in the Bering Sea than any other tagged whale to date.  However, there have been sightings of bowhead whales near the Pribilof Islands (see map) in the 1970s and acoustic recorders have recently detected bowhead whales approximately 200 miles east of the Pribilof Islands in winter.  As such, this movement is not totally unexpected. Hopefully, this transmitter will continue to work throughout the winter.

Bowhead whale B12-3 was still located south of Nunivak Island in the eastern Bering Sea as of 14 January 2013. The ice image is blurred by cloud cover, but you can see that the whale is located near the southern ice edge.

Bowhead whale B12-3 was still located south of Nunivak Island in the eastern Bering Sea as of 14 January 2013. The ice image is blurred by cloud cover, but you can see that the whale is located near the southern ice edge.

Bowhead whale B12-3 has moved from the area south of Nunivak Island to St. Matthew Island in the Bering Sea as of 30 January 2013. No transmissions were received between these two locations, so the track is a straight line.  The ice image is blurred by cloud cover, but you can see that the whale is located near the southern ice edge.

Bowhead whale B12-3 has moved from the area south of Nunivak Island to St. Matthew Island in the Bering Sea as of 30 January 2013. No transmissions were received between these two locations, so the track is a straight line.  The ice image is blurred by cloud cover, but you can see that the whale is located near the southern ice edge.

Bowhead whale B12-3 is still located north of St. Matthew Island in the Bering Sea as of 6 February 2013.

Bowhead whale B12-3 is still located north of St. Matthew Island in the Bering Sea as of 6 February 2013.

We have not received any new bowhead locations since the middle of February 2013.  As such, it is likely that all whales are off the air and there will be no new maps until more whales are tagged.  At the moment, tagging crews at St. Lawrence Island are preparing for tagging this spring. We will update everyone when new tags are deployed.

2013 Bowhead Satellite Tagging Season

Tom Akeya, Carl Pelowook, and their crews from Savoonga, St. Lawrence Island, tagged a bowhead whale on Sunday, 21 April 2013, near Pugughileq (see map).  The tag is operating normally and will yield both location and dive data.  Congratulations to Tom and his crew! In addition to this, a tag that was deployed last fall by Billy Adams near Barrow, Alaska, has come back on the air.  The tag (B12-04) was deployed on 21 September 2012 and went off the air in November.  Over the last two weeks, the tag has started to transmit again. Both whales are shown on this map. The newly tagged whale (B13-01) is the red track and the whale tagged last fall (B12-04) is the yellow track, both as of 23 April 2013.  The MODIS image of sea ice was taken on 21 April 2013.

Tom Akeya, Carl Pelowook, and their crews from Savoonga, St. Lawrence Island, tagged a bowhead whale on Sunday, 21 April 2013, near Pugughileq (see map).  The tag is operating normally and will yield both location and dive data.  Congratulations to Tom and his crew! In addition to this, a tag that was deployed last fall by Billy Adams near Barrow, Alaska, has come back on the air.  The tag (B12-04) was deployed on 21 September 2012 and went off the air in November.  Over the last two weeks, the tag has started to transmit again. Both whales are shown on this map. The newly tagged whale (B13-01) is the red track and the whale tagged last fall (B12-04) is the yellow track, both as of 23 April 2013.  The MODIS image of sea ice was taken on 21 April 2013.

As of 29 April 2013, B12-04 is still located south of St. Lawrence Island, but appears to be northbound.  B13-01 passed east of St. Lawrence Island and has entered the Chukchi Sea east of Little Diomede.  This is the first tagged whale that passed east of St. Lawrence Island during the spring migration. The MODIS ice image was taken on 27 April.

As of 29 April 2013, B12-04 is still located south of St. Lawrence Island, but appears to be northbound.  B13-01 passed east of St. Lawrence Island and has entered the Chukchi Sea east of Little Diomede.  This is the first tagged whale that passed east of St. Lawrence Island during the spring migration. The MODIS ice image was taken on 27 April.

Over the last ten days, we have received transmissions from two bowhead whales, and these are the locations ending as of 5 May 2013. The MODIS ice image was taken on 3 May 2013 and is largely free of cloud cover.

Over the last ten days, we have received transmissions from two bowhead whales, and these are the locations ending as of 5 May 2013. The MODIS ice image was taken on 3 May 2013 and is largely free of cloud cover.

Over the last ten days, we have received transmissions from two bowhead whales and these are the locations ending as of 13 May 2013.  B01-13 has passed by Point Barrow and is currently eastbound.  B12-04 has yet to pass by Barrow, but will likely do so in the next few days.  The MODIS ice image was taken on 8 May; it is obscured by cloud cover but is the best image currently available.

Over the last ten days, we have received transmissions from two bowhead whales and these are the locations ending as of 13 May 2013.  B01-13 has passed by Point Barrow and is currently eastbound.  B12-04 has yet to pass by Barrow, but will likely do so in the next few days.  The MODIS ice image was taken on 8 May; it is obscured by cloud cover but is the best image currently available.

We have received transmissions from two bowhead whales in the last ten days, and these are the locations ending as of 20 May 2013.  Both whales have passed Barrow; B13-01 is currently north of Cape Bathurst, Canada, and B12-04 is currently north of Kaktovik, Alaska.  The MODIS image was taken on 18 May.

We have received transmissions from two bowhead whales in the last ten days, and these are the locations ending as of 20 May 2013.  Both whales have passed Barrow; B13-01 is currently north of Cape Bathurst, Canada, and B12-04 is currently north of Kaktovik, Alaska.  The MODIS image was taken on 18 May.

Both bowhead whales have reached Amundsen Gulf and are currently located within the open water off Cape Bathurst (i.e., the Cape Bathurst polynya).  This map shows the path our two whales have followed over the last ten days, and these are the locations ending as of 28 May 2013.  The MODIS ice image was taken on 27 May.  Light cloud cover partially obscures much of the image; however, you can still see ice pans and open water through the clouds.  Most of Amundsen Gulf is still locked in landfast ice.

Both bowhead whales have reached Amundsen Gulf and are currently located within the open water off Cape Bathurst (i.e., the Cape Bathurst polynya).  This map shows the path our two whales have followed over the last ten days, and these are the locations ending as of 28 May 2013.  The MODIS ice image was taken on 27 May.  Light cloud cover partially obscures much of the image; however, you can still see ice pans and open water through the clouds.  Most of Amundsen Gulf is still locked in landfast ice. 

Amundsen Gulf still has land-fast ice, and both of the tagged bowhead whales are still located within the open water near Cape Bathurst (the Cape Bathurst polynya) as of 3 June 2013.

Amundsen Gulf still has land-fast ice, and both of the tagged bowhead whales are still located within the open water near Cape Bathurst (the Cape Bathurst polynya) as of 3 June 2013.

This map shows the most recent location data for the two tagged bowhead whales as of 10 June 2013. The whales are still near Cape Bathurst, Canada. The MODIS ice image was taken on 9 June.

This map shows the most recent location data for the two tagged bowhead whales as of 17 June 2013.  The whales are still near Cape Bathurst, Canada; however, Bowhead B12-04 (green circle) has not transmitted since 11 June. The MODIS ice image is from 14 June.

This map shows the most recent location data for the two tagged bowhead whales as of 17 June 2013.  The whales are still near Cape Bathurst, Canada; however, Bowhead B12-04 (green circle) has not transmitted since 11 June. The MODIS ice image is from 14 June.

This map shows the most recent bowhead location data as of 21 June 2013. Bowhead B13-01(red circle) is now located NNW of Tuktoyaktuk in the Beaufort Sea. Bowhead The MODIS image is from 20 June.

This map shows the most recent bowhead location data as of 21 June 2013. Bowhead B13-01(red circle) is now located NNW of Tuktoyaktuk in the Beaufort Sea. Bowhead The MODIS image is from 20 June.

This map shows the most recent bowhead location data as of 3 July 2013. One bowhead tag is currently transmitting. The whale tagged at St. Lawrence Island last spring, B13-01, travelled to Amundsen Gulf, but Amundsen Gulf remained locked in land fast ice until just a few days ago.  Approximately a week ago, B13-01 began to head west.  The whale is currently 125 miles (200 km) north-northeast of Barrow.

This map shows the most recent bowhead location data as of 3 July 2013. One bowhead tag is currently transmitting. The whale tagged at St. Lawrence Island last spring, B13-01, travelled to Amundsen Gulf, but Amundsen Gulf remained locked in land fast ice until just a few days ago.  Approximately a week ago, B13-01 began to head west.  The whale is currently 125 miles (200 km) north-northeast of Barrow.

This map shows the most recent bowhead location data as of 9 July 2013. The whale is currently 260 miles (420 km) north-northwest of Wrangel Island.

This map shows the most recent bowhead location data as of 9 July 2013. The whale is currently 260 miles (420 km) north-northwest of Wrangel Island.

This map shows the most recent bowhead location data as of 16 July 2013. The whale has continued to move west and is currently located 400 km (250 miles) north of Wrangel Island.  The MODIS image was taken on 14 July.

This map shows the most recent bowhead location data as of 29 July 2013. The whale has returned to the Alaskan Beaufort after travelling north-northwest of Wrangel Island.  The weather has been cloudy and we cannot see sea ice through the cloud cover in the MODIS images.  Because of the cloud cover, the whale’s track is plotted over sea ice concentration data available from the National Ice Center (http://www.natice.noaa.gov/).

This map shows the most recent bowhead location data as of 8 August 2013. Bowhead B13-01 has returned to the Alaskan Beaufort Sea and is currently east of Kaktovik.  Clouds in the southern Beaufort Sea have again obstructed MODIS satellite images over the last week.  Therefore, we plotted the bowhead tracks over sea ice concentration data available from the National Ice Center (http://www.natice.noaa.gov/ ).

This map shows the most recent bowhead location data as of 8 August 2013. Bowhead B13-01 has returned to the Alaskan Beaufort Sea and is currently east of Kaktovik.  Clouds in the southern Beaufort Sea have again obstructed MODIS satellite images over the last week.  Therefore, we plotted the bowhead tracks over sea ice concentration data available from the National Ice Center (http://www.natice.noaa.gov/ ).

This map shows the most recent bowhead location data as of 14 August 2013. B13-01 bowhead whale is currently east of Kaktovik. Clouds in the southern Beaufort Sea have again obstructed MODIS satellite images over the last week.  Therefore, we plotted the bowhead tracks over sea ice concentration data available from the National Ice Center (http://www.natice.noaa.gov/ ). For reference, we have added the OCS leased blocks to the map.

This map shows the most recent bowhead location data as of 14 August 2013. B13-01 bowhead whale is currently east of Kaktovik. Clouds in the southern Beaufort Sea have again obstructed MODIS satellite images over the last week.  Therefore, we plotted the bowhead tracks over sea ice concentration data available from the National Ice Center (http://www.natice.noaa.gov/ ). For reference, we have added the OCS leased blocks to the map.

This map shows the most recent bowhead location data as of 19 August 2013. The bowhead whale is currently located approximately 30 miles (48 km) northwest of Herschel Island, Canada.

This map shows the most recent bowhead location data as of 19 August 2013. The bowhead whale is currently located approximately 30 miles (48 km) northwest of Herschel Island, Canada.

This map shows the most recent bowhead location data as of 26 August 2013. Over the last ten days, the bowhead whale has moved into the Alaska Beaufort Sea.  The whale is currently 50 miles (80 km) east of Kaktovik.

This map shows the most recent bowhead location data as of 26 August 2013. Over the last ten days, the bowhead whale has moved into the Alaska Beaufort Sea. The whale is currently 50 miles (80 km) east of Kaktovik.

This map shows the most recent bowhead location data as of 2 September 2013. The tagged bowhead whale is approximately 120 miles west of Kaktovik (~70 miles east-northeast of Nuiqsut) and is westbound towards Barrow.

This map shows the most recent bowhead location data as of 2 September 2013. The tagged bowhead whale is approximately 120 miles west of Kaktovik (~70 miles east-northeast of Nuiqsut) and is westbound towards Barrow.

This map shows the most recent bowhead location data as of 8 September 2013. The tagged bowhead is currently located near Barrow, Alaska, and appears to be west bound.

 This map shows the most recent bowhead location data as of 8 September 2013. The tagged bowhead is currently located near Barrow, Alaska, and appears to be west bound.

This map shows the most recent bowhead location data as of 16 September 2013. The tagged bowhead whale (B13-01) has remained near Barrow, Alaska, for the last ten days. There is currently no sea ice near Barrow so the whale track is presented with local bathymetry.

This map shows the most recent bowhead location data as of 16 September 2013. The tagged bowhead whale (B13-01) has remained near Barrow, Alaska, for the last ten days. There is currently no sea ice near Barrow so the whale track is presented with local bathymetry.

This map shows the most recent bowhead location data as of 23 September 2013. The tagged bowhead whale has left Barrow and is currently westbound.  The whale is still well south of the ice edge, so the map shows bathymetry rather than sea ice.

This map shows the most recent bowhead location data as of 23 September 2013. The tagged bowhead whale has left Barrow and is currently westbound.  The whale is still well south of the ice edge, so the map shows bathymetry rather than sea ice.

This map shows the most recent bowhead location data as of 30 September 2013. Over the last ten days, the tagged bowhead whale has remained in the north-central Chukchi Sea.

This map shows the most recent bowhead location data as of 30 September 2013. Over the last ten days, the tagged bowhead whale has remained in the north-central Chukchi Sea.

This map shows the most recent bowhead location data as of 9 October 2013. The bowhead tagged at St. Lawrence Island last spring is still transmitting. The whale has moved west and is currently ~100 miles northwest of Wrangel Island in the Chukchi Sea.

This map shows the most recent bowhead location data as of 14 October 2013. The tagged bowhead whale is currently located approximately 70 miles (112 km) northeast of Wrangel Island.

This map shows the most recent bowhead location data as of 14 October 2013. The tagged bowhead whale is currently located approximately 70 miles (112 km) northeast of Wrangel Island.

The B13-01 tag is still transmitting and the whale is currently located 122 km (75 miles) south of Wrangel Island in Russian waters. Ice data is provided by the National/Naval Ice Center and is dated 20 October.

The B13-01 tag is still transmitting and the whale is currently located 122 km (75 miles) south of Wrangel Island in Russian waters. Ice data is provided by the National/Naval Ice Center and is dated 20 October.

The B13-01 tag is still transmitting; the whale is slowly moving south along the northern coast of Chukotka, Russia.

The B13-01 tag is still transmitting; the whale is slowly moving south along the northern coast of Chukotka, Russia.

The B13-01 bowhead tag is still transmitting off the coast of Chukotka, Russia.

The B13-01 bowhead tag is still transmitting off the coast of Chukotka, Russia.

The B13-01 satellite-tagged bowhead whale is still located along the northern coast of Chukotka, approximately 120 km (75 miles) northwest of the Diomede Islands and Bering Strait.

The B13-01 satellite-tagged bowhead whale is still located along the northern coast of Chukotka, approximately 120 km (75 miles) northwest of the Diomede Islands and Bering Strait.

The B13-01 tagged bowhead whale is still located along the northern coast of Chukotka, Russia, in the Chukchi Sea. The whale is approximately 150 miles (240 km) northwest of the Diomede Islands.

The B13-01 tagged bowhead whale is still located along the northern coast of Chukotka, Russia, in the Chukchi Sea. The whale is approximately 150 miles (240 km) northwest of the Diomede Islands.

The tagged bowhead whale (B13-01) is approximately 133 miles (215 km) northwest of the Diomede Islands, along the northern coast of Chukotka, Russia. the whale has been moving back and forth in this vicinity for over a month.

The tagged bowhead whale (B13-01) is approximately 133 miles (215 km) northwest of the Diomede Islands, along the northern coast of Chukotka, Russia. the whale has been moving back and forth in this vicinity for over a month.

The bowhead tag (B13-01) is currently off the air as of mid-December 2013. Crews at St. Lawrence Island are still hoping to tag this winter. More maps will be posted if more tagging occurs or if B13-01 resumes transmitting.

2014 Bowhead Satellite Tagging Season

Between 5 August and 12 September, a collaborative effort between the Tuktoyaktuk Hunters and Trappers Committee (HTC), the Division of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), Canada, and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG) attempted to attach satellite transmitters to bowhead whales in the Canadian Beaufort Sea, near Tuktoyaktuk, Canada.   This year was characterized by poor weather and we found few whales in nearshore waters where the hunters expected whales to be found.  After 38 days in the field, we managed to tag a total of two whales.  Unfortunately, one of the tags is not yielding locations.  This tag is sent a few messages to the Argos satellite system, so we may still receive locations from the tag at a later date. 

The tag that is yielding locations was attached to a 30 foot bowhead whale on 20 August 2014, approximately 76 km (47 miles) northeast of Tuktoyaktuk, near Atkinson Point.  The whale is fast approaching Alaskan waters and was last located 10 km (6 miles) from the Alaskan border.  I will send out a map once every week to update folks on the location of this whale. 

Lots of people helped with this effort, including James Pokiak (tagger), Charles Pokiak (tagging boat driver), Sammy Gruben (safety crew), Gary Raddi (safety boat driver), James Keevik (safety crew), Joe Felix, Jr. (safety boat driver), Deanna Leonard (DFO), Ellen Lea (DFO), Andrew Nichols (DFO), Lori Quakenbush (ADFG), Outi Tervo (Greenland Institute of Natural Resources), and Lois Harwood (DFO).  John Noksana (President Tuktoyaktuk HTC) and Lena McIntyre (HTC) helped with local logistics and relations with the Tuktoyaktuk HTC.  The project is funded by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management with additional support from the Division of Fisheries and Oceans, Canada

For more updates on this tagged bowhead whale, go to ADFG Satellite Tracking of Western Arctic Bowhead Whales.

For a new paper on bowhead core use areas, go to this site.

2015 Bowhead Satellite Tagging Season

During 2015, the NSB Department of Wildlife Management, along with local whalers, are attempting to attach satellite transmitters to bowhead whales near Barrow. This project is in collaboration with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG). Updated maps can be seen at ADFG Satellite Tracking of Western Arctic Bowhead Whales. Thanks to John Citta of ADFG for providing these maps.

August 28, 2015: A 45 foot long bowhead whale was tagged on Saturday, 23 August 2015, near Point Barrow, Alaska. The tagging crew included Billy Adams, Daniel Jacob Leavitt, Wilbur Leavitt, Joe Skin, Harry Brower Jr., Lewis Brower, Aaron Morris and Craig George. The tag placement is very good and the tag is operating normally.  The whale has remained in the Barrow area since tagging (see attached map).    

September 21, 2015: Three whales were tagged on September 2nd, and there are still two of those tags transmitting. The tagging crew included Harry Brower, Jr., Lewis Brower, Isaac Leavitt, and Craig Johnson. The attached map shows the three bowhead transmitters still on the air.  B15-01 is currently moving south, away from the shelf break and towards Wrangel Island.  B15-02 and B15-03 have both moved west, out of the Oil and Gas Lease Sale Area.  We have not received any transmissions from the fourth whale that was tagged (B15-04); we will keep looking for data uplinks, but it is likely that we will never receive data from this whale.  

2018 Bowhead Satellite Tagging Season

Congratulations to Billy Adams, Craig George, Carl Nayakik, Jared Nayakik, Jordan Kippi, Qaiyaan Leavitt, Quuniq Donovan and Justin Gatten of Utqiaġvik and John Citta from ADFG in Fairbanks for a very successful bowhead tagging season. Ten whales have been tagged near Utqiaġvik: one on the 2nd, one on the 20th , five on the 21st and three on the 25th of September. Four of the transmitters were Splash10 tags made by Wildlife Computers in Seattle; six were CTD tags made by the Sea Mammal Research Unit in St. Andrews, Scotland. Both tag types collect position and dive information. The CTD tags collect information on water temperature and how salty the water is (salinity) and will be used to help determine the type and source of water bowhead whales are feeding in. Both tag types are programmed to collect data that will be used to correct the BOEM-NSB aerial surveys for how many whales are diving when the aircraft flies over, as well as gathering more information on feeding areas, migration routes, wintering areas, and to see if bowheads may be overlapping with Bering Sea fishing/crabbing operations. 

This year’s tagging effort was a collaboration between the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s Arctic Marine Mammal Program and the North Slope Borough Department of Wildlife Management. Funding is provided by the Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management and Office of Naval Research and the NSB. Tagging activities are conducted under NMFS permit #18890 issued to ADF&G and under an approved ADF&G Animal Care and Use Committee Protocol #0027-2018-29. For updates on whale locations, you will find updated maps and archives at this ADFG website. There are also maps showing the locations of bowhead whales tagged in Canada. Maps provided by Justin Crawford (ADFG).

September 17, 2018: One 45-50 foot bowhead whale (B18-01) was tagged on September 2nd, near Utqiagvik, Alaska, by Billy Adams, Jordan Kippi, Qaiyaan Leavitt, and John Citta..  This tag did not transmit at first and we feared the tag was placed too low on the whale. On 15 September, the Argos satellite system finally got a lock on the tag’s position and the tag is currently transmitting normally. Interestingly, the tagged whale moved east after tagging. Since the tag came back on the air, the whale has moved west, past Kaktovik, and is now in Camden Bay (see attached map).  We commonly see tagged whales make such loops in July and August, but this is the first loop we have observed in September.  East winds cause upwelling along the shelf break and deliver whale food onto the shelf.  Most of the winds over the last month have been west winds, which do not promote good feeding conditions, and the tagged whale may have circled east looking for food.  We now have east winds and whales are being sighted near-shore at Utqiagvik.  

September 28, 2018: We wrapped up our 2018 bowhead tagging efforts on Tuesday, 25 September, tagging 10 bowhead whales near Utqiaġvik, Alaska. As of this moment, all ten tags are communicating with the ARGOS satellites. The satellites have yet to lock on a position for three of the tags, but the company that operates the satellites tells us that the tags should yield positions soon. We also have three tags from last year that are still transmitting (see attached map). 

October 8, 2018: During the last twelve days we have received locations from 12 tags deployed on bowhead whales: 3 were deployed near Tuktoyaktuk in 2017 and 9 were deployed near Utqiaġvik in 2018.  All bowhead whales are generally between Kaktovik, Alaska, and Wrangel Island, Russia (see attached map). Sea ice data are courtesy of the U.S. National Ice Center, dated 8 October (http://www.natice.noaa.gov/products/daily_products.html).

October 15, 2018: During the last ten days we have received locations from 12 tags deployed on bowhead whales; 3 were deployed near Tuktoyaktuk, Canada, in 2017 and 9 were deployed near Utqiaġvik, Alaska, in 2018.  All bowhead whales are generally between Kaktovik, Alaska, and Wrangel Island, Russia. See attached map. Sea ice data are courtesy of the U.S. National Ice Center, dated 15 October (http://www.natice.noaa.gov/products/daily_products.html). 

October 22, 2018: During the last ten days we have received locations from 12 tags deployed on bowhead whales; 3 were deployed near Tuktoyaktuk, Canada, in 2017 and 9 were deployed near Utqiaġvik, Alaska, in 2018.  Bowhead B17-01 is the only tagged bowhead whale still in the Beaufort Sea and is currently between Kaktovik and Utqiaġvik.  The remaining whales are in the northern Chukchi Sea, generally between Utqiaġvik and Wrangel Island, Russia. See attached map. Sea ice data are courtesy of the U.S. National Ice Center, dated 22 October (http://www.natice.noaa.gov/products/daily_products.html).

November 5, 2018: During the last fourteen days we have received locations from 11 tags deployed on bowhead whales; 3 were deployed near Tuktoyaktuk, Canada, in 2017 and 8 were deployed near Utqiaġvik, Alaska, in 2018.  Bowheads B17-01 (dark green) and B17-03 (yellow) are offshore of Wainwright, AK.  Bowhead B18-07 (light green) is south of Wrangel Island, Russia.  Bowheads B18-01 (blue) and B18-02 (orange) are moving along the north coast of Russia.  The remaining whales are in the northcentral Chukchi Sea, generally between Utqiaġvik and Wrangel Island. See attached map. Sea ice data are courtesy of the U.S. National Ice Center, dated 5 November (http://www.natice.noaa.gov/products/daily_products.html).