Traditional Knowledge of the Ecology of Beluga Whales (<i>Delphinapterus leucas</i>) in the Eastern Chukchi and Northern Bering Seas, Alaska

  • Henry P. Huntington
  • The Communities of Buckland, Elim, Koyuk, Point Lay and Shaktoolik
Keywords: beluga whale, white whale, Delphinapterus leucas, Bering Sea, Chukchi Sea, ecology, traditional ecological knowledge, TEK


Traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) has been used opportunistically in biological studies of beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) in Alaska, but no previous research has documented this knowledge systematically. This first such effort, which took place in Norton Bay, Buckland, and Point Lay, Alaska, provided descriptions of migratory and local movements, feeding, calving, ecological interactions, and human influences on distribution and behavior. The results are consistent with those of previous studies but add considerable detail, including descriptions of avoidance and habituation responses to anthropogenic noise, which appear to depend in part on association with hunting activities. Making greater use of TEK will benefit both research and management by providing better information and by expanding the collaborative process developed through co-management.