Status of gray whales off Northeastern Sakhalin Island and eastern Kamchatka, Russia, in 2019
Alexander M. Burdin, Olga Sychenko, Matvey Mamaev
International Whaling Commission
Western gray whales are facing a number of difficulties like the large-scale offshore oil and gas development near their summer feeding ground, as well as fatal net entrapments off Japan during migration, pose significant threats to the survival of the population. In 2019 long term (1995-2019) gray whale research funded by IFAW continue in Piltun Lagoon area off NE Sakhalin (Weller et al., 1999; Burdin et al. 2016; 2017; 2018). Using photo-id and biopsy data collected by this study the population assessment of gray whales feeding off Sakhalin and Kamchatka is updated (Cooke et all, 2019). This report reviews findings from 2019 research activities and combines such with data from previous years. Photo-identification research conducted off Sakhalin Island in 2019 resulted in the identification of 49 whales, including twenty calves within 30 boat trips. 2019 gray whale survey in Kronotsky Gulf (East Kamchatka) provided important information about Kamchatka-Sakhalin subpopulation. Using the IUCN Red List criteria, the Sakhalin and Kamchatka populations, if assessed as a subpopulation, either separately or together, would be classified as Endangered, on the basis of there being between 50 and 250 mature individuals.