Distribution, Abundance, and Habitat Use of North Pacific Right Whales (AK-07-x13)
The eastern population of the North Pacific right whale (Eubalaena japonica) is arguably the rarest stock of whales anywhere in the world. Right whales throughout the North Pacific were drastically reduced by commercial whaling beginning in 1835, and the remnant eastern population was almost wiped out by illegal Soviet catches in the 1960's. Today, the surviving population likely numbers fewer than 100 whales, although little is known of its abundance, movements and current habitat use. Because of its endangered status under the Endangered Species Act (and designated as “critically endangered” by the IUCN), the eastern North Pacific right whale is among the highest priorities for recovery efforts by NOAA Fisheries. Historical data as well as recent observations confirm that the NAB lease-sale area is used by right whales for at least the period May-September; although it is generally assumed that the animals migrate out of the area during winter, this is based on very little information and has never been confirmed. It is also assumed that right whales occupy the NAB area to feed upon copepods, but oceanographic and foraging ecology studies of the region are lacking.
Objectives: • Estimate seasonal distribution, abundance and movement patterns in and adjacent to the lease sale area. • Characterize right whale habitat, foraging behavior, health, and prey distribution.
Distribution, Abundance, and Habitat Use of North Pacific Right Whales (AK-07-x13) was updated over 2 years ago
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