Changes in the Numbers of Cetaceans near the Pribilof Islands, Bering Sea, between 1975-78 and 1987-89

  • Lariann Baretta
  • George L. Hunt Jr.
Keywords: Animal behaviour, Animal distribution, Animal food, Animal population, Euphausiacea, Porpoises, Sea birds, Whales, Bering Sea, Pribilof Islands waters, Alaska


We compared the number of cetaceans seen during surveys of seabird distribution in the vicinity of the Pribilof Islands, Bering Sea, during two periods, 1975-78 (3867 km surveyed) and 1987-89 (6101 km surveyed). During the 1980s, we saw increased numbers of fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus) (0 to 66 individuals), minke whales (B. acutorostrata) (3 to 38 individuals), humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) (0 to 24 individuals), killer whales (Orcinus orca) (5 to 58 individuals), and Dall's porpoises (Phocoenoides dalli) (101 to 241 individuals). It could not be determined whether these changes reflected changes in the numbers of these species in the Bering Sea, or simply local changes in their foraging or distribution patterns. Fin, humpback and minke whales were seen foraging in the vicinity of large flocks of birds that were eating euphausiids (Thysanoessa raschii and T. inermis).

Key words: Fin whale, minke whale, humpback whale, killer whale, Dall’s porpoise, Balaenoptera physalus, Balaenoptera acutorostrata, Megaptera novaeangliae, Orcinus orca, Phocoenoides dalli, Bering Sea, whale foraging