[MARMAM] New Publication - Bowhead whale (Balaena mysticetus) and killer whale (Orcinus orca) co-occurrence in the U.S. Pacific Arctic, 2009–2018: Evidence from bowhead whale carcasses

Amy Willoughby - NOAA Affiliate amy.willoughby at noaa.gov
Mon Oct 5 14:28:25 PDT 2020

Dear colleagues,

My co-authors and I are pleased to announce our recent publication in Polar

Willoughby, A.L., M.C. Ferguson, R. Stimmelmayr, J.T. Clarke, A.A. Brower.
2020. Bowhead whale (*Balaena mysticetus*) and killer whale (*Orcinus orca*)
co-occurrence in the U.S. Pacific Arctic, 2009–2018: Evidence from bowhead
whale carcasses. Polar Biology. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00300-020-02734-y

Imagery and sighting data on bowhead whale (*Balaena mysticetus*) carcasses
documented from 2009 to 2018 during aerial surveys in the eastern Chukchi
and western Beaufort seas have provided evidence for killer whale (*Orcinus
orca*) predation on bowhead whales of the Bering-Chukchi-Beaufort Seas
stock.  The Aerial Surveys of Arctic Marine Mammals (ASAMM) project
provides information on distribution, behavior, and relative density of
marine mammals.  ASAMM surveys large areas of bowhead whale and killer
whale summer and autumn habitat and offers consistent information on
bowhead whale carcasses.  Thirty-three bowhead whale carcasses were
documented in July–October, from 2009 to 2018.  Carcasses were distributed
across the eastern Chukchi and western Beaufort seas from 141.6° W to
168.1° W and 68.9° N to 72.0° N.  Carcass sighting rates (carcasses/1000
km) varied by month, year, and region.  Statistical results suggest an
alternating series of high and low annual carcass sighting rates.  Eighteen
bowhead whale carcasses having injuries consistent with probable killer
whale predation were photo-documented: four each in 2016 and 2018, three
each in 2013 and 2015, two in 2012, and one each in 2010 and 2017.  Four
carcasses, two in 2015 and one each in 2013 and 2018, were likely whales
struck and lost during aboriginal subsistence hunting.  Cause of death
could not be determined for 11 carcasses.  This study is the first
systematic inquiry into non-harvest related mortality of bowhead whales in
the U.S. Pacific Arctic and provides multi-year evidence for killer whale
predation on bowhead whales in this portion of their range.

Available at https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00300-020-02734-y

Feel free to contact me directly for a PDF copy. amy.willoughby at noaa.gov

Amy Willoughby
Cooperative Institute for Climate, Ocean, and Ecosystem Studies (CICOES)
University of Washington
Cetacean Assessment and Ecology Program
Marine Mammal Laboratory
Alaska Fisheries Science Center
NOAA Fisheries
7600 Sand Point Way NE F/AKC3
Seattle, WA 98115-6349
Tel: 206-526-4029
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