IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- 2000Critically Endangered
The western gray whale summers in the
- Korea, Democratic People's Republic of
- Korea, Republic of
- Russian Federation
FAO Marine Fishing Areas
- Pacific – northwest
Western gray whales were thought to be extinct as recently as 1972 (Bowen 1974), but a small number are now known to survive (Berzin 1974, Weller et al. 2002); the best estimate for 2006 is 113-131 animals, of which 26-35 are reproductive females, based on an analysis of photo-identification data (Cooke et al. 2006). The figures include adjustments for the photo-identified whales that are likely to have died and for the estimated number of living whales that have yet to be catalogued. In the absence of additional new mortality in excess of the estimated rate over 1994-2004, the population size is projected to increase at 2-4% per annum (Cooke et al. 2006). However, even a very small number of additional annual female deaths will cause the subpopulation to decline.
Habitat and Ecology
Habitat and Ecology
The main feeding habitat of this subpopulation is the shallow (5-15 m depth) shelf of northeastern
Western gray whales were hunted by aboriginal people in the northern part of their range since prehistoric times but to an unknown extent (Mitchell, 1979). They were taken by Japanese hand-harpoon whalers in the
Three western gray whales, all females, were fatally entangled in net-traps on the Pacific coast of
The substantial nearshore industrialization and shipping congestion throughout the migratory corridors of this subpopulation represent potential threats by increasing the likelihood of exposure to ship strikes, chemical pollution, and general disturbance (Weller et al. 2002).
Offshore gas and oil development in the
International Whaling Commission (IWC) regulations protect western gray whales from commercial and aboriginal subsistence whaling; the range states of the
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