The Utqiaġvik-based aerial team is continuing their surveys in the eastern Chukchi Sea. On a survey in late July, the team saw a subarctic whale species farther north in the Pacific Arctic than it had ever been seen before!
What do we mean by “subarctic whales”? Technically, subarctic means anything just below the Arctic Circle, south of 66.5° N. In Utqiaġvik, Alaska, we are at about 71.3° N, so pretty far into Arctic territory, and our survey area extends even farther north. To us, a subarctic whale species is a species usually found farther south in the North Pacific Ocean, which includes the Bering Sea, during spring, summer, and into autumn months; this includes humpback whales, fin whales, and minke whales. We haven’t sighted any minke whales yet this year, so here we focus on humpback and fin whales.