ICE-WHALES (2015-2019)

This programme is studying the prevalence and status of the three endemic ice-associated whales in Svalbard (bowhead whale, beluga whale and narwhal) in relation to climate changes and possible interactions with populations of summer-visiting whale species.

This programme also includes population size studies, studies of diet and health, as well as extensive tracking studies. Ongoing projects under this programme include satellite tracking of bowhead whale, beluga whale, fin whale and blue whale. An aerial count of whales along the coast of Svalbard, which was carried out in the summer of 2018, produced estimates of over 300 bowhead whale and 800 narwhal.

Analyses of several years of sound recordings from a passive acoustic receiver in the northwestern part of Framstredet has made it possible to study the acoustic environment in a key reproductive area for bowhead whale from the Svalbard population. The analyses show that this area is relatively unaffected by man-made sounds during the winter and that singing by these whales dominates the noise picture. However, noise from seismic activity is heard during an average of 12 hours a day during the summer months.