Prior to the onset of commercial whaling in the 1830s, right whales were widely distributed across the North Pacific (Scarff 1986, Clapham et al. 2004, Shelden et al. 2005). In the eastern North Pacific, the waters adjacent to the Aleutian Islands and much of the Bering Sea below 60oN were major feeding grounds during spring, summer and autumn, as was virtually the entire
In recent decades, both the southeastern Bering Sea and the western
Seasonal movements are evident in sighting and catch data from the 20th century, with a general northward migration into the Gulf of Alaska and
In general, the majority of eastern North Pacific right whale sightings (historically and in recent times) have occurred from about 40º N to 60º N. There are historical records from north of 60º N, but these are rare and many are likely to be misidentified bowhead whales. Right whales have on rare occasions been recorded off
Recent data indicate that while the present range of the remnant eastern subpopulation is likely reduced relative to pre-whaling times, the southeastern Bering Sea and western Gulf of Alaska (south of Kodiak) remain important habitats.
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