Places that beluga whales like in the Arctic are not closely linked to ice conditions

A new study uses two decades of tagging data on beluga whales to identify habitats that they prefer. In the eastern Chukchi and eastern Beaufort Seas, belugas preferred places with particular depth features, like canyons and continental slopes, instead of preferring places based on sea ice characteristics. Thus while reduced sea ice in this region may indirectly affect belugas through ecosystem changes, they did not rely on sea ice features to find places with good food availability. The research was by former SAFS PhD student Donna Hauser, SAFS Prof. Kristin Laidre, and others, and appeared in PLoS ONE.

 

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