Historic and Current Habitat Use by North Pacific Right Whales in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska (2005)

April 01, 2005

Re-examination of all available sighting and catch records in or near the southeastern Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska over the past two centuries to help define areas and ecological parameters critical to the survival of the remnant eastern population of North Pacific right whales.

Prior to 1840, Pacific right whales were abundant during the summer months throughout the waters of the southeastern Bering Sea and the Gulf of Alaska. Two areas of intense commercial whaling during the 19th century were the "Bristol Bay Ground" in the southeastern Bering Sea and the "Kodiak Ground" or "Northwest Ground" in the Gulf of Alaska. Within 14 years of the discovery of the Northwest Ground in 1835, commercial whalers had greatly reduced the North Pacific right whale population so much that many whalers switched to the newly established bowhead whale fishery in the Arctic. The prohibition on the catching of right whales established in 1935 provided some protection for the species until the Soviet Union began widespread illegal whaling of the right whales in the post-war period.

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Kim E.W. Shelden, Sue E. Moore, Janice M. Waite, Paul R. Wade, and David J. Rugh. Published in Mammal Rev. 2005, Volume 35 No. 2, 129–155.

Last updated by Alaska Regional Office on 03/05/2019