Greenland whale in the Barents Sea. Photo: Kjell-Arne Fagerheim, imr.no

Researchers mapped Barents Sea, found rare whale population

But they were not allowed into Russian waters
August 16, 2017

Researchers from the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research have found a group of rare Greenland whales in open waters in the Barents Sea. The discovery was made during this year’s whale mapping expedition in the area, the institute informs.

The discovery was the most significant finding during the expedition, marine researcher Nils Øien writes.

The researchers previously believed the that the Greenland whale had been extinguished from the area.

According to Øien, the objective of the expedition was to cover the Barents Sea, including the Russian waters west of the Novaya Zemlya. That, however, did not happen.

Russian restrictions on our activities in the southern part resulted in a lower level of coverage than desired, the researcher says. The waters off the Kola Peninsula and the northeast Barents Sea are considered the main feeding grounds for the minke whale.

The Norwegian researchers still conclude that the population of minke whales in the area is on the level of the previous mapping in 2013, perhaps even in an increased number.

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The most numerous whale population in the eastern part of the Barents Sea is the baleen whale, while the toothed whales dominate in the western part of the area, data from the expedition show.

Despite international protests, Norway continues to have a catch regime on whales, but only minke whales. In 2016 the minke whale quota totaled about 880 animals.

According to a new report from the Marine Research Institute, the minke whale population in the Barents Sea in summertime is estimated to 34,125 and 27,390 in the waters surrounding archipelago Svalbard.

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