Balaena mysticetus (Okhotsk Sea subpopulation)

Status_ne_offStatus_dd_offStatus_lc_offStatus_nt_offStatus_vu_offStatus_en_onStatus_cr_offStatus_ew_offStatus_ex_off

Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA MAMMALIA CETARTIODACTYLA BALAENIDAE

Scientific Name: Balaena mysticetus (Okhotsk Sea subpopulation)
Species Authority: Linnaeus, 1758
Parent Species:
Common Name(s):
English Bowhead Whale
French Baleine Du Groenland
Spanish Ballena De Groenlandia
Taxonomic Notes: A subpopulation of Balaena mysticetus Linnaeus, 1758. See also global assessment for this species and subpopulation assessment for the Svalbard-Barents Sea (Spitsbergen) stock. Genetic analyses have confirmed that the Okhotsk Sea bowheads are distinct from the Bering-Chukchi-Beaufort Sea bowheads and are a separate, isolated subpopulation (LeDuc et al. 2005).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered D ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2008-07-01
Assessor(s): Reilly, S.B., Bannister, J.L., Best, P.B., Brown, M., Brownell Jr., R.L., Butterworth, D.S., Clapham, P.J., Cooke, J., Donovan, G., Urbán, J. & Zerbini, A.N.
Reviewer(s): Taylor, B.L. & Notarbartolo di Sciara, G.
Justification:
The available, albeit tentative information on abundance suggests that the mature population size is below 250 individuals.
History:
1996 Endangered
1996 Endangered

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:

Sea of Okhotsk from Shantarskiye Zaliv east to Zaliv Shelikova, Gizhiginskaya Guba and Penzhinskaya Guba (Moore and Reeves 1993, Rice 1998). The absence of bowhead sightings on any of the Japanese-Russian systematic surveys of cetaceans in the Okhotsk Sea conducted in 1989, 1990, 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2003 (Miyashita and Dorosehnko 1990; Miyahsita and Berzin 1991; Miyashita et al. 2000, 2001; Miyashita 1999, 2004) tends to confirm that animals from this subpopulation are rarely found outside those four known areas of concentration.

The map shows where the species may occur based on oceanography. The species has not been recorded for all the states within the hypothetical range as shown on the map. States for which confirmed records of the species exist are included in the list of native range states.

Countries:
Native:
Russian Federation
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Native:
Pacific – northwest
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Bowhead Whales have been seen regularly during Russian surveys in the northeast and southwest Sea of Okhotsk. Berzin et al. (1991) reported bowhead sightings every year from 1982 through 1990, except 1985, with up to 72 whales apparently seen on one day. Doroshenko and Ivannikov (2003) reported 48 Bowhead Whales sighted during a not especially intensive survey conducted in 2001.

However, there are no reliable estimates of abundance. Berzin et al. (1990) believed the individuals in the southwest Okhotsk Sea to number at least 250–300 animals, while Vladimirov (1994) estimated the subpopulation at 300–400 whales for the entire Okhotsk Sea. These values appear to be based primarily on the numbers seen, without evaluation of effective search effort. The proportion of the subpopulation that comprises mature animals is unknown. A value of 44% has been estimated for the Bering-Chukchi-Beaufort Sea stock of bowhead whales. The absence of bowhead sightings on any of the Japanese-Russian systematic surveys of cetaceans in the Okhotsk Sea (referred to above) tends to suggest that the subpopulation is small.

The subpopulation was subject to intensive commercial whaling during the short period 1852–1860 and apparently had been depleted by 1860, although some catching continued until 1900. Woodby and Botkin (1993) estimated a minimum initial subpopulation size of about 3,000 based on catch records. In the late 1960s, Soviet ship-based whalers took an unknown number of bowheads in the Okhotsk Sea illegally (Doroshenko 1996). The subpopulation thus appears to still be at a small fraction of its pre-whaling abundance, and there is no direct information to assess whether or not the subpopulation is increasing.
Population Trend: Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Little is known about the specific ecology of the Okhotsk Sea Bowhead Whale subpopulation. Unlike other Bowhead Whale subpopulations, this one inhabits an area that is ice-free in summer.

 The seasonal distribution of Bowhead Whales in general is strongly influenced by pack ice (Moore and Reeves 1993). During the winter bowhead whales occur in areas near the ice edge, in polynyas, and in areas of unconsolidated pack ice. During the spring these whales use leads and cracks in the ice to penetrate areas that were inaccessible during the winter due to heavy ice coverage. During the summer and autumn they concentrate in areas where zooplankton production is high or where large-scale biophysical processes create local concentrations of calanoid copepods (Finley 1990, Finley et al. 1998).
 
Small to medium-sized crustaceans, especially krill and copepods, form the bulk of the bowhead's diet (Lowry et al. 2004). They also feed on mysids and gammarid amphipods, and the diet includes at least 60 species. Bowheads skim feed at the surface and feed in the water column. It has recently been suggested that they also feed near the bottom, but probably do not directly ingest sediments as Gray Whales routinely do.
Systems: Marine

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): This population is not currently subject to hunting. At least one case of fatal entrapment of an Okhotsk Sea Bowhead Whale in fishing gear has been documented (Brownell 1999).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions:

The International Whaling Commission has protected Bowhead Whales from commercial whaling since its inception in 1946 and there is no aboriginal subsistence whaling exemption for Okhotsk Sea Bowhead Whales. The species, including this population, is protected under Russian law through its inclusion on the Russian national Red List. This species has been included in CITES Appendix I since 1975.  The species listed in Appendix I of CMS.

Bibliography [top]

Berzin, A.A., Vladimirov, V.L. and Doroshenko, N.V. 1990. Aerial surveys to determine the distribution and number of polar gray whales and beluga whales in the Sea of Okhotsk in 1985-1989. Izvestiya Tikhookeanskogo Nauchno-Issledovatel’skogo Instituta Rybnogo Khozyaistva I Okeanografii (TINRO) 112:51-60 (in Russian).

Berzin, A.A., Vladimirov, V.L. and Doroshenko, N.V. 1991. Results of aerial surveys to study the distribution and abundance of whales in the Sea of Okhotsk in 1988-1990. In: L.A. Popov (ed.) Nauchno-issledovatel’skie ra’oty po morskim mlekopitayushchim severnoi chasti Tikhogo okeana v 1989-1990, pp.6-17. All-Union Scientific Research Institute of Fisheries and Oceanography (VNIRO), Moscow (in Russian).

Brownell Jr., R.L. 1999. Mortality of a bowhead whale in fishing gear in the Okhotsk Sea. Paper SC/51/AS27 submitted to the IWC Scientific Committee, May 1999.

Doroshenko, N.V. 1996. Bowhead whales in the Okhotsk Sea. News of the Pacific Fisheries Research Center (TINRO) 121: 14-25 (in Russian)

Doroshenko, N.V. and Ivannikov, D.V. 2003. Brief cruise report of the Russian sightings surveys in the Sea of Okhotsk, 2001. Journal of Cetacean Research and Management 5(Suppl.) 246.

Finley, K.J. 1990. Isabella Bay, Baffin Island: an important historical and present-day concentration area for the endangered bowhead whale (Balaena mysticetus) of the eastern Canadian Arctic. Arctic 43:137-152.

Finley, K.J., Marko, J., Fissel, D.B. and Goodyear, J.D. 1998. The Calanus connection: feeding ecology and habitat of bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus) within the Baffin marine ecosystem, in relation to climatic oscillations. Paper presented to Symposium on Arctic Seas: Currents of Change, Mystic, Connecticut.

IUCN. 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2012.2). Available at: http://www.iucnredlist.org. (Accessed: 17 October 2012).

LeDuc, R.G., Dizon, A.E., Burdin, A.M., Blokhin, S.A., George, J.C. and Brownell Jr., R.L. 2005. Genetic analyses (mtDNA and microsatellites) of Okhotsk and Bering-Chukchi-Beaufort Seas populations of bowhead whales. Journal of Cetacean Research and Management 7(2): 107-111.

Lowry, L.F., Sheffield, G. and George, J.C. 2004. Bowhead whale feeding in the Alaskan Beaufort Sea, based on stomach content analyses. Journal of Cetacean Research and Management 6(3): 215-223.

Miyashita, T. 1999. Report of 1998 North Pacific minke whale sightings cruise. Paper SC/51/RMP 3 presented to the IWC Scientific Committee, June 1999.

Miyashita, T. 2004. Cruise report of the common minke sightings surveys in the Sea of Okhotsk in 2003. Paper SC/56/RMP 1 presented to the IWC Scientific Committee, June 2004

Miyashita, T. and Berzin, A.A. 1991. Report of the whale sighting survey in the Okhotsk Sea and adjacent waters in 1990. . Paper SC/43/O 5 presented to the IWC Scientific Committee, May 1991

Miyashita, T. and Doroshenko, N.V. 1990. Report of the whale sightings survey in the Okhotsk Sea, August 1989. Paper SC/42/O 18 presented to the IWC Scientific Committee, June 1990

Miyashita, T., Nishiwaki, S., Vladimirov, V.A. and Doroshenko, N.V. 2001. Cruise report on the minke whale sighting surveys in the Sea of Okhotsk, 2000. Paper SC/53/RMP5 presented to the IWC Scientific Committee, July 2001.

Miyashita, T., Okamura, H., Vladimirov, V.A. and Doroshenko, N.V. 2000. Cruise report of the Japan-Russia joint sighting survey in the Sea of Okhotsk in 1999. Paper SC/52/RMP4 presented to the IWC Scientific Committee, June 2000.

Moore, S.E. and Reeves, R.R. 1993. Distribution and movement. In: J.J. Burns, J.J. Montague and C.J. Cowles (eds) The Bowhead Whale, pp. 313-386. Society for Marine Mammalogy, Special Publication No.2, Allen Press, Lawrence, Kansas.

Reeves, R.R., Smith, B.D., Crespo, E.A. and di Sciara, G.N. (compilers) 2003. Dolphins, Whales and Porpoises: 2002-2010 Conservation Action Plan for the World's Cetaceans. IUCN/SSC Cetacean Specialist Group. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

Rice, D.W. 1998. Marine Mammals of the World. Systematics and Distribution. Allen Press, Lawrence, Kansas, USA.

Ross, W.G. 1993. Commercial whaling in the North Atlantic sector. In: J.J. Burns, J.J. Montague and C.J. Cowles (eds) The Bowhead Whale, pp. 511-561. Society for Marine Mammalogy, Special Publication No.2, Allen Press, Lawrence, Kansas.

Vladimirov, V.L. 1994. Recent distribution and abundance level of whales in Russian Far-Eastern seas. Russian Journal of Marine Biology 20:1-9.

Woodby, D.A. and Botkin, D. 1993. Stock sizes prior to commercial whaling. In: J.J. Burns, J.J. Montague and C.J. Cowles (eds) The Bowhead Whale, pp.387-407. Society for Marine Mammalogy, Special Publication No.2, Allen Press, Lawrence, Kansas.


Citation: Reilly, S.B., Bannister, J.L., Best, P.B., Brown, M., Brownell Jr., R.L., Butterworth, D.S., Clapham, P.J., Cooke, J., Donovan, G., Urbán, J. & Zerbini, A.N. 2012. Balaena mysticetus (Okhotsk Sea subpopulation). In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 23 November 2014.
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