[MARMAM] New publication on satellite tracking of bowhead whales

Mads Peter Heide-Jørgensen MAHE at natur.gl
Fri Jul 6 13:28:40 PDT 2018

Dear colleagues

We have just published a paper based on satellite tracking of a large number of bowhead whales. The paper demonstrates how sea surface temperatures can predict the movements of these high arctic whales.

The article is available online here:


or read the abstract here:

The effects of climate change constitute a major concern in Arctic waters due to the rapid decline of sea ice, which may strongly alter the movements and habitat availability of Arctic marine mammals. We tracked 98 bowhead whales by satellite over an 11-year period (2001-2011) in Baffin Bay - West Greenland to investigate the environmental drivers (specifically sea surface temperature and sea ice) involved in bowhead whale's movements. Movement patterns differed according to season, with aggregations of whales found at higher latitudes during spring and summer likely in response to sea-ice retreat and increasing sea temperature (SST) facilitated by the warm West Greenland Current. In contrast, the whales moved further south in response to sea temperature decrease during autumn and winter. Statistical models indicated that the whales targeted a narrow range of SSTs from ?0.5 to 2?°C. Sea surface temperatures are predicted to undergo a marked increase in the Arctic, which could expose bowhead whales to both thermal stress and altered stratification and vertical transport of water masses. With such profound changes, bowhead whales may face extensive habitat loss. Our results highlight the need for closer investigation and monitoring in order to predict the extent of future distribution changes.


Mads Peter Heide-Jørgensen
Professor, Dr. Scient.


[Grønlands Naturinstitut]   Pinngortitaleriffik
   Grønlands Naturinstitut
   Greenland Institute of Natural Resources

c/o Grønlands Repræsentation
Strandgade 91, 2.sal
DK-1401 København K, Danmark
Phone: +45 3283 3827  *  Cell phone: +45 4025 7943
Email: mhj at ghsdk.dk<mailto:mhj at ghsdk.dk>
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