Chapter

Whales and Whaling in the North Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea Oceanographic Insights and Ecosystem Impacts

ALAN M. SPRINGER, GUS B. VAN VLIET, JOHN F. PIATT and ERIC M. DANNER

in Whales, Whaling, and Ocean Ecosystems

Published by University of California Press

Published in print January 2007 | ISBN: 9780520248847
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520933200 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520248847.003.0019
Whales and Whaling in the North Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea Oceanographic Insights and Ecosystem Impacts

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Did the removal of megatons of upper-trophic-level consumers significantly alter food-web dynamics by removing significant levels of predatory controls over prey populations, removing an important prey resource for predator populations, and changing the sensitivity of the ecosystem to physical forcing because of new predator-prey functional relationships? In order to address this question, it is necessary to understand where and when whales were harvested in the North Pacific Ocean, and how this ultimately affected whale distribution. Whales were not uniformly distributed across this broad region, and the roles they played were concentrated in relatively small areas. This chapter shows where great whales formerly were found in abundance in the North Pacific, relates those distributions to oceanography, and briefly explores some examples of the magnitude of change that might have resulted from the loss of great whales in the Aleutian Islands and Bering Sea.

Keywords: great whales; Bering Sea; oceanography; Aleutian Islands; Bering Sea; predator-prey relationships

Chapter.  11968 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Aquatic Biology

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