Presenter: Dave Rugh
Commercial whaling had large-scale impacts on whale populations around the world. As whale numbers plunged, the economics of the hunt made it less and less efficient to continue. Meanwhile, conservation concerns increased, saving most populations from extinction.
Presented, in this session, are 34 years of hands-on research conducted under the aegis of NOAA in order to document abundance, trends, and distribution of:
- bowhead whales in Alaska’s arctic,
- gray whales from Alaska to California,
- belugas in Cook Inlet, near Anchorage,
- North Pacific right whales.
Among other facts, the forgoing research has shown that:
- Bowheads are doing well and should be considered for removal from the Endangered Species List.
- Gray whales were removed from the list in 1994 (the first mammals to do so without going extinct), thanks to the research conducted by NOAA.
- Belugas in Cook Inlet are not doing quite so well (a result of unregulated hunting); therefore, they have recently been added to the Endangered Species List.
- North Pacific right whales are now extremely rare, and there are doubts they will ever recover.