Bowhead Whales in Alaska
2007 summary of the bowhead whale population, management, psychology, behavior and the Alaska Native subsistence hunt.
Over 10,000 bowhead whales migrate annually through the Bering, Chukchi and Beaufort seas in a population that is growing at a rate of 3.4% per year. Scientists estimate that the population numbered between 14,000 and 27,000 whales prior to extensive commercial whaling between 1848 and 1915. It may have dropped as low as 1,500 whales following the commercial whaling era.
The latest bowhead whale population estimate for the Bering-Chukchi-Beaufort population is based on visual counts of whales made during the spring of 2001 by North Slope Borough observers standing on sea ice north of Point Barrow, Alaska. Visual counts were checked by acoustic recorders that provided location data, showing where whales were heard. Scientists have conducted similar whale counts since 1976. They use these data, spanning 30 years, to estimate population abundance and trends.