Distribution and Numbers of Bowhead Whales (<i>Balaena mysticetus</i>) in Northwestern Hudson Bay in August 1995


  • Susan E. Cosens
  • Stuart Innes




aerial survey, bowhead whale, distribution, northwestern Hudson Bay, stock size


There is interest among the Inuit of Nunavut in renewing subsistence hunting of bowhead whales. Managing a limited harvest while allowing for stock recovery from commercial whaling requires some estimate of stock numbers. The large geographic range of bowhead whales in the eastern Canadian Arctic precludes cost-effective estimation of total stock size; however, estimates of summer aggregation sizes can be derived from sampling of summering areas. Although these numbers do not represent total stock size, they do provide indicators of the minimum number of bowheads known to be present and may be useful as indices for monitoring stock recovery. A visual aerial survey conducted in northwestern Hudson Bay resulted in an estimate of 75 ± 27.5 (95% Confidence Interval = 17-133) bowhead whales. This estimate is conservative because it was not corrected for submerged whales or for whales that were at the surface but not seen by observers. Most sightings of whales were made in Repulse Bay and Frozen Strait.