Minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata)

Marine mammals 2013
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Among the baleen whales that frequent the Barents Sea on a seasonal basis, the minke whale is the most numerous. Recent estimates suggest that the population is quite stable (Solvang et al., 2015), although minor variations do occur in both distribution and point estimates. The most recent point estimate for minke whale abundance in the total area is numerically lower than previous estimates, but not significantly different from estimates based on the two preceding

survey periods. The Small Management Area CM (the Jan Mayen area, part of the C region) has a current count that is only 40 % of estimates for the periods 1996-2001 and 2002-2007. This may have some unrevealed connection to the recent observed drop in minke whale abundance in coastal waters of Iceland. Within the E region, the point estimate was a bit higher than during the previous two cycles. There are general signs of a north- and eastwards distributional shift from the Norwegian Sea toward the Svalbard area and the Barents Sea. Distribution and migration patterns of north-east Atlantic minke whale are relatively poorly known, but in summer they are nearly ubiquitous in the Barents Region (Skern-Mauritzen et al., 2008). They can be seen around Spitsbergen with regularity from late spring until early autumn, particularly along the west and north coasts, usually as solitary individuals. They are also observed from May until September in the northern parts of the White Sea and southern parts of the Barents Sea and in summer can be found as far west as the Kara Sea (pers. comm. Vladimir Svetochev). The exact proportion of the stock that utilises the Barents Sea is not known, but it is thought that regional prey abundance during any given year may be a strong determinant (Eriksen, 2006).