Arctic Bowhead Whale: Native Disassembly, Pathobiology and Climate Change


Arctic Research Initiative
2007 Funded Project


Arctic climate change has the potential to have massive impacts on the traditional subsistence hunts undertaken for millennia by native Inuit.  One such is the Spring and Fall bowhead whale hunt undertaken from Barrow on the Alaskan North Slope.  Climate change may include increased unintentional human impacts on bowhead whales, such as ship collision and fixed fishing gear entanglement as the amount of ice decreases.  The PI in this project has ongoing studies on the pathobiology and human impact issues of a related species, the North Atlantic right whale.  This project will enable native knowledge bases to enhance the study of the right whale, by allowing the principal investigator (PI) to participate in, and record the disassembly of hunted bowheads.  It will also allow the PI to share his knowledge of potential future climate change induced human impacts on the conservation of bowheads.  Through visits to the hunt over a two year period, he will also be able to collect bowhead bone samples critical to the diagnosis of a widespread lesion observed in the humerus bones of many large whale species.