Update on plans for a population survey in 2019 of Bering-Chukchi-Beaufort bowhead whales
R. Suydam, J.C. George, M. Ferguson, and G. Givens
International Whaling Commission
Our last successful bowhead survey was in 2011. To have the next estimate available by 2021, we are planning to conduct (1) an ice-based census in spring 2019 (correcting the visual estimate with acoustic data from previous census efforts) and (2) an aerial line transect survey across the US and Canada Beaufort Sea in summer or autumn 2019. The ice-based census efforts are more challenging and less safe than in the past because of expected thinner and less stable ice conditions due to climate change. Therefore, attempting an aerial line-transect survey will increase our chances of having a new estimate by 2021 and initiate a new survey approach that may need to be implemented in the future.