Bowhead Whale Research

Bowhead whales are one of the few cetaceans that permanently reside in polar waters, seasonally moving with the advance and retreat of the ice edge. In a recent studyThe previous link is a link to a Non-Federal government web site. Click to review NOAA Fisheries Disclaimerpublished in Ecology and Evolution, researchers investigated the genetic diversity of bowhead whales by analyzing samples collected from modern populations and ancient specimens. They discovered that there were significant genetic differences between ancient and modern populations, possibly due to changes in ice coverage and/or past commercial whaling, and that there appears to be recent and high gene flow between Pacific and Atlantic populations of bowhead whales suggesting that these whales have navigated their way across the Arctic despite substantial ice coverage over most of the past millennium.

  • For more information on the bowhead whale project, please check out the Press ReleaseThe previous link is a link to a Non-Federal government web site. Click to review NOAA Fisheries Disclaimerfrom the Wildlife Conservation Society or read this news articleThe previous link is a link to a Non-Federal government web site. Click to review NOAA Fisheries Disclaimerthat was recently published in The Washington Post.

*Please note: The bowhead whale photo on this page came from the 2011 "Bowhead Aerial Abundance Spring Survey" that was funded jointly by NOAA and the North Slope Borough.

Bowhead Whale