Among the toothed whales, the long-finned pilot whale, sperm whale, the northern bottlenose whale, and killer whales are summer visitors to the Barents Sea. The Northeast Atlantic population of long-finned pilot whales number some 780,000 individuals (NAMMCO 1998), but only a very small (and unknown) part of this population enters the Barents Sea. Few sightings have been made in areas covered by IMR surveys; these sightings are insufficient to estimate
abundance, but they demonstrate high variability in the number of individuals encountered from year to year. Pilot whales must therefore be considered stragglers along the Norwegian coast and in the Barents Sea, although significant sized pods are occasionally seen as far north as Bjørnøya. Sperm whales are associated with deeper areas along the shelf edge north to Spitsbergen, but are occasionally observed north to the ice edge, on the shelf and occasionally also in the fjords of Svalbard. Although the northern bottlenose whale is a deep water species, individual animals are observed annually by the Russian fishing fleet in the western part of the Barents Sea during the summer and fall through November in waters ranging from 400 – 1500 m in depth (Klepikovsky and Shestopal, 2006). Sightings in IMR surveys are relatively few, but according to previous catch records, northern bottlenose whales have a distribution similar to that of sperm whales, being concentrated south of the
Barents Sea, with only large males migrating as far north as Spitsbergen. Sperm whales are regularly sighted in the Bleik Canyon area off Vesterålen, Norway, well south of the Barents Sea, and along the continental slope in the Norwegian Sea; but carcasses of large males do wash ashore annually in Svalbard (NPI fauna data base). Adult male sperm whales leave their natal pods and travel widely, first as part of male groups. They become more solitary with increasing age. Presumably adult males from the Vesterålen population are the ones that reach Spitsbergen (Christensen et al., 1992). IMR ecosystem survey indicates a stable distribution of individuals along the shelf edge.