Auke Bay Laboratories
The Habitat and Marine Chemistry Program at the Alaska Fisheries Science Center's Auke Bay Laboratories is studying humpback whales to analyze the whales’ ecological role as herring predators in Lynn Canal. The Pacific herring stocks in Lynn Canal have struggled for over two decades, and have failed to recover despite the closing of commercial fisheries in 1982. Simultaneously, humpback whale populations have been steadily increasing and may be inhibiting a sufficient rebound in herring populations. Locally, we are monitoring herring populations, humpback populations and humpback prey choices; from these data, we can determine the number of “whale days” of feeding impact on herring. This will help us gauge the impact humpback whales are having on herring recovery.
Survey efforts include counting humpback whales and estimating abundance using photographic identification and determining prey through visual observations, trawling, and hydro-acoustics. This study is a part of a much larger study aimed at understanding whale and herring interactions at multiple locations throughout the state.
Fluke photos from this and other studies in the Juneau area are available on this site (see Juneau Catalog).
National Marine Mammal Laboratory
Alaska Fisheries Science Center's National Marine Mammal Laboratory conducts other and more extensive studies on humpback whales. If you would like to learn more about their research, visit http://www.afsc.noaa.gov/nmml/species/species_humpback.php
Links to Other Humpback Research Sites:
• Southeast Alaska Humpbacks, UAS and NPS
• Glacier Bay National Park
• Alaska Whale Foundation
• Whale Trust
• Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary
• International Whaling Commission (IWC)
• NMFS Stock Assessment Reports