Bowhead Whales United by Climate Change


Adventure Canada travellers are now familiar with the fact that climate change is taking place at a rapid pace in Canadian Arctic waters.  For the past decade, and particularly this year, summer ice cover has been at an all time low in Parry Channel, the northern route of the famed Northwest Passage through the Canadian Arctic archipelago.  

Up till now, the Beaufort Sea bowhead whale population was thought to be separated by heavy Central Arctic summer ice from the other North American bowhead whale population, which summers around Baffin Island.  Well, the heavy summer ice cover no longer exists and last summer Greenland and Alaskan biologists, using satellite-linked tracking devices, watched in amazement the tracks of two whales, one from the Beaufort Sea, the other from Baffin Island waters, track into Viscount Melville Sound and share that passage for a period of ten days.  

Add to that this summer’s observation of narwhals near Cambridge Bay, a rare occurrence for a species normally summering at least 400 kilometres east of that community.  Both events are unusual and they raise a broader question: are these exceptional or are entire populations of Arctic whales changing their distribution in response to receding summer ice. Continued research is required to establish that.

 

Experience the Arctic fr yourself next summer, there is still plenty of selection on ourEpic High Arctic program. Click here for more info!

 

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