Scientists tag six beluga whales in the Okhotsk Sea

Scientists tag six beluga whales in the Okhotsk Sea

24 September 2010

From July 15 through September 20, the Russian Academy of Sciences' Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution conducted another phase of the expedition under the 2010 Beluga-White Whale programme.


The expedition studied the summer-time Amur aggregation of the Okhotsk Sea white-whale population, operating from its base on Chkalov Island in the Okhotsk Sea.


In all, expedition members caught three white-whale males and three females of varying age, checked their health and tagged them with radio transceivers. One of the females was tagged for the second time. Its back was found to have small, healed scars from a previously installed and lost transceiver. Scientists plan to identify the animal through genetic-analysis and an available photo bank and to find out when it was tagged. This will eventually make it possible to obtain unique data on this female's migration routes through different years.


Judging by their size and skin colour, two males and one female tagged with satellite transceivers come from one and the same group comprising over 20 different specimens of varying age. Zoologists will map the animals' movements, assessing the stability of mutual intra-group ties and their subsequent routes. The animals might either separate or migrate to another sector of the Okhotsk Sea.


Next year, there are plans to synchronise observations with the research plan in various parts of the Okhotsk Sea, including the western Kamchatka coast, the Sakhalin Gulf and the Shantar Islands in the sea's southwestern zone.