Population size and trend estimated from a number of studies of the western Arctic bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus) is critical information that the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission (AEWC) and NOAA need to maintain the Bowhead Whale Subsistence Harvest and to provide scientific support for the periodic quota requests from the IWC.
The NSB conducted another ice-based census and aerial abundance survey in the spring of 2011 to provide updated information for the AEWC to bring to the International Whale Commission (IWC). Harvest samples are collected regularly and include genetic samples for stock structure studies and tissue samples for aging and reproductive studies. The satellite tagging efforts to study the movements of the BCB bowheads, in collaboration with ADFG, AEWC, and others, began in 2005 and are also continuing. Harvest examinations to date also indicate that bowhead whales are healthy, with low contaminant levels.
The 2010 whale census perch with the ‘midnight sun’ (photo: Adrienne Boland)
Banner photo credit: Kate Stafford