Good news – Bowhead whales in US waters

Grist published a quick update on NOAA’s recent report, and called out a nugget of good news wrt Bowhead whale numbers. They also acknowledged that this conservation effort was mostly a result of stewardship from the indigenous people’s organization Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission.

From Grist, quote: “Last week, as part of its annual report on rising temperatures in the Arcticthe National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration included a nugget of good news: Bowhead whale populations are seeing an unexpected rebound in U.S. waters. Bowhead whales — the only baleen whale that lives in the Arctic year-round — were plentiful along the coasts of Alaska until the 1700s. But by the end of the 19th century, commercial whalers had hunted them nearly to extinction seeking their blubber, oil, and baleen.

The bowhead’s accelerated population expansion in recent decades has come as a surprise to biologists, who expected melting sea ice to further reduce the cold-adapted whale species’ numbers. It seems that warming temperatures have been surprisingly helpful to the whale, as food sources such as krill and copepods have increased in number, and the whales have expanded their hunting ranges with shifts in Arctic sea ice. The species has also benefited from the stewardship of the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission, an Indigenous coalition that has fought against drilling and other industrial activities in the whale’s habitat.

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