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Beluga whales are being affected by climate change

CBC: ‘Everything is connected’: Aklavik’s beluga whale harvest challenged on multiple fronts

July 24, 2020 — 

As CBC North reports, the beluga whale harvest out of Aklavik, in the Northwest Territories, is down but not out. From a high of 35 whales harvested in 1981, it has hit zero twice in the past five years.

And it’s not for a lack of whales — the population of eastern Beaufort Sea belugas remain in relative abundance at about 40,000 animals.

A recent study out of the University of Manitoba documents what’s behind the decline of the Aklavik hunt. It was a community-driven project.

“The research question was developed by Aklavik and we worked on the whole project together,” said Elizabeth Worden, a research associate with the Centre for Earth Observation Science at the University of Manitoba, and the lead author on the study.

No single factor dominates, but the challenges wrought by climate change, the death of elders and the loss of their knowledge, and the preference for modern life among some of the community’s youth have all contributed to its decline.

“Everything is connected,” Worden said. “It’s quite a Western thing to try to separate things into themes and categories. It was very challenging to do that because everything influences everything.”


Read the full story.

Research at the University of Manitoba is partially supported by funding from the Government of Canada Research Support Fund.

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