Whale Research Projects

Our whale research projects center around species that are important for Alaska Native subsistence purposes and focus on whale movements, habitat use, diet, health, and behavior related to disturbance. Our research relies on the participation of subsistence hunters and whalers to be successful. We work with the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission, local Whaling Captains Associations, the Alaska Beluga Whale Committee, and the Bristol Bay Native Association - Marine Mammal Council to develop and implement study plans.

  • Satellite Tracking of Western Arctic Bowhead Whales
    Bowhead whales are the most important subsistence species for many coastal communities and bowhead whales migrate through three major oil and gas exploration and development areas twice per year. With the help of Alaskan and Canadian whalers and hunters to deploy transmitters, we use satellite-telemetry as a tool to track bowhead whales throughout the year to determine important areas and document interactions with industry.
  • Beluga Studies in Bristol Bay
    Bristol Bay has a large, healthy, and growing beluga whale population that is the focus of several studies to document movements, develop abundance estimates using genetics, and to develop baseline measurements of health for wild beluga whales. Some of these studies will be used for comparative purposes to assist the recovery of the endangered Cook Inlet beluga population. Local beluga hunters are critical in the capture of whales and in developing study ideas and methods.
  • Beluga Studies in Cook Inlet
    The beluga population in Cook Inlet has not shown growth at the rate expected and our studies focus on diet using stomach contents and isotopes and on vocal behavior using acoustics.
  • Traditional Knowledge Reports
    We conducted Traditional Ecological Knowledge interviews, documenting local knowledge of marine mammals near coastal villages.