NOAA scientist discovers rare whales in the Bering Sea – KNOM Radio Mission


The North Pacific Right Whale is one of the rarest animals in the Bering Sea. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, only about 30 North Pacific right whales inhabit the eastern Bering Sea. This week, a NOAA researcher was able to find and collect information on not one but two of these whales.

NOAA Fisheries Researcher Jessica Crance uses acoustic instruments to listen for whales and find them by sound. Crance is part of an international team of scientists studying large whales in the Bering Sea this summer. The team left Dutch Harbor in July to conduct the International Whaling Commission’s Pacific Ocean whale and ecosystem research (POWERFUL) investigation.

It’s the 8e year of the POWER survey, and the first to use acoustic instruments to listen to whales. NOAA plans to survey the entire Bering Sea over the next three years. In addition to the rare North Pacific right whales, scientists on board will study several other species, including humpbacks, sperm whales and fin whales.

The long-term goal of the POWER surveys is to assess large whale populations in the North Pacific, to determine what conservation measures, if any, might be needed. The project is expected to last ten years or more.


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