Scientists at NOAA Fisheries’ Auke Bay Laboratories have mapped Dall’s porpoise distributions in Prince William Sound for the first time in nearly three decades. The research was part of Gulf Watch Alaska, a program that monitors the long-term ecosystem effects of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. Previously Dall’s porpoise had been little studied in Prince William Sound since the oil spill.
We found Dall’s porpoise in shallow nearshore waters—not typical habitat for this open water species. Dall’s porpoise may be expanding into new territory in Prince William Sound because of the decline of their main predator, killer whales, following the Exxon Valdez oil spill. We are continuing to monitor Dall's porpoise to better understand their role in a changing Prince William Sound.