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COSEWIC Assessment and Update Status Report on the Bowhead Whale in Canada

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COSEWIC
Assessment Summary

 

Assessment Summary – May 2005

Common name:

Bowhead whale (Hudson Bay-Foxe Basin population)

Scientific name:
Balaena mysticetus

Status:
Threatened

Reason for designation:
The population was severely reduced by commercial whaling between 1860 and 1915. Recent population estimates are uncertain, but indicate that there could be as few as 300 mature individuals, of which only half might be females. Threats to this small population include illegal hunting and increased vulnerability to killer whale predation as a result of reduced ice coverage.

Occurrence:
Arctic Ocean

Status history:
The "Eastern and Western Arctic populations" were given a single designation of Endangered in April 1980. Split into two populations (Eastern Arctic and Western Arctic) to allow separate designations in April 1986. The Eastern Arctic population was not re-evaluated in April 1986, but retained the Endangered status of the original "Eastern and Western Arctic populations." The Eastern Arctic population was further split into two populations (Hudson Bay-Foxe Basin population and Davis Strait-Baffin Bay population) in May 2005, and the Hudson Bay-Foxe Basin population was designated Threatened. Last assessment based on an update status report.

 

Assessment Summary – May 2005

Common name:

Bowhead whale (Davis Strait-Baffin Bay population)

Scientific name:
Balaena mysticetus

Status:
Threatened

Reason for designation: The population numbered at least 11 000 animals when commercial whaling began. Whaling reduced the population to less than 30% of its former abundance. Recent estimates indicate that the population is growing and is larger than previously thought, but is likely to still number fewer than 3000 individuals of all ages. The population qualifies for endangered, but is not judged to be in imminent danger of extinction. Threats include illegal hunting and increased vulnerability to killer whale predation as a result of reduced ice coverage.

Occurrence:
Arctic Ocean

Status history: The "Eastern and Western Arctic populations" were given a single designation of Endangered in April 1980. Split into two populations (Eastern Arctic and Western Arctic) to allow separate designations in April 1986. The Eastern Arctic population was not re-evaluated in April 1986, but retained the Endangered status of the original "Eastern and Western Arctic populations." The Eastern Arctic population was further split into two populations (Hudson Bay-Foxe Basin population and Davis Strait-Baffin Bay population) in May 2005, and the Davis Strait-Baffin Bay population was designated Threatened. Last assessment based on an update status report.

 

Assessment Summary – May 2005

Common name:

Bowhead whale (Bering-Chukchi-Beaufort population)

Scientific name:
Balaena mysticetus

Status:
Special Concern

Reason for designation:
This population was hunted to low levels during commercial whaling. Although supporting a regulated hunt, it is recovering and is currently at about 50% of its historical population size. The population is not yet secure and is potentially negatively affected by climate change, and by oil and gas development.

Occurrence:
Arctic Ocean

Status history:
The "Eastern and Western Arctic populations" were given a single designation of Endangered in April 1980. Split into two populations (Eastern Arctic and Western Arctic) to allow separate designations in April 1986. The Western Arctic population was designated Endangered in April 1986. The population was renamed to "Bering-Chukchi-Beaufort population" and designated Special Concern in May 2005. Last assessment based on an update status report.