Balenoptera in Kongsfjorden. Photo: Ann Kristin Balto, Norwegian Polar Institute

Rationale: Monitoring the dynamics of non-ice associated marine mammals in the Barents Sea area is essential for understanding overall ecosystem dynamics and as a basis for assessing and mitigating impacts of human activities on the marine fauna.

Observed from helicopter during the 2015 polar bear counting survey in Sbalbard and the Norwegian part of the Barents Sea. Photo: Jon Aars, Norwegian Polar Institute

Rationale: Ice associated marine mammals are expected to be severely affected by declining sea ice extent. It is thus of great importance to monitor their population dynamics.