Russian Journal of Marine Biology

, Volume 36, Issue 1, pp 56–62 | Cite as

Seasonal migrations of Sea of Okhotsk beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) of the Sakhalin-Amur summer aggregation

  • O. V. Shpak
  • R. D. Andrews
  • D. M. Glazov
  • D. I. Litovka
  • R. C. Hobbs
  • L. M. Mukhametov
Zoology of Vertebrates


Seasonal migrations of beluga whales from the Sakhalin-Amur aggregation in the Sea of Okhotsk were investigated with the use of satellite telemetry. Satellite tags were attached to four females captured near Chkalova Island, Sakhalin Bay, in August 2007. At 5 weeks after tagging, the belugas left the Chkalova Island area and moved to the Nikolaya and Ul’banskii Bays in the Shantar Sea. The animals stayed in these bays (mainly in Nikolaya Bay) until the end of autumn and then traveled northward to deeper waters. In winter and spring, they preferred to stay in the regions with dense ice cover or close to the ice edge. During the winter migration, the tagged whales, as a rule, did not keep together, although they followed the same course with a little time lag. The female whose tag transmitted the longest (9.5 months) returned to Chkalova Island in late May and thus completed the seasonal migration cycle. Based on the data on the migration routes of the tagged belugas, we suggest that the Sakhalin-Amur and Shantar aggregations interact in autumn. It is also possible that they have similar winter migratory paths

Key words

beluga whale Delphinapterus leucas Sea of Okhotsk migration satellite telemetry 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Arsen’ev, V.A., Distribution and Migrations of Beluga Whales in Far East, Izv. TINRO, 1939, vol. 15,iss.15. 110 pp.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Bel’kovich, V.M., Chernetskii, A.D., and Kirillova, O.I., Biology of Beluga Whales (Delphinapterus leucas) in the Southern White Sea, in Morskiye mlekopitayuschie (Rezul’taty issledovanii, provedyonnykh v 1995–1998 gg.), Sb. statei (Marine Mammals (Results of Studies Conducted in 1995–1998), Collected Works), Moscow: Sovet po morskim mlekopitayuschim, 2002, pp. 53–78.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Berzin, A.A., Vladimirov, V.L., and Trukhin, A.M., Materials on Winter Period of Belugas’ Life in the Sea of Okhotsk and Bering Sea, Izv. TINRO-Tsentra, 1996, vol. 121, pp. 9–13.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Vladimirov, V.L., Distribution and Abundance of Beluga Whale in the Sea of Okhotsk, Tezisy dokl. Mezhdunar. konf. po izucheniyu i okhrane morskikh mlekopitayuschikh, Golitsyno, 11–12 okt. 1995 (Proc. Int. Conf. on Study and Conservation of Marine Mammals, Golitsyno, October 11–12, 1995), Moscow: Sovet po morskim mlekopitayuschim, 1995, pp. 30–31.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Vladimirov, V.L. and Mel’nikov, V.V., Distribution and Abundance of Beluga Whale in the Sea of Okhotsk, Biol. Morya, 1987, no. 5, pp. 65–69.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Doroshenko, N.V. and Doroshenko, A.N., Distribution and Abundance of Beluga Whale in Sakhalin Bay, Materialy yubileinoi nauchn. konf. “Rybokhozyaistvennyie issledovaniya okeana”, Vladivostok, 8–12 apr., 1996. Ch. 2 (Proc. Jubilee Sci. Conf. “Fishery and Economical Studies of the Ocean”, Vladivostok, April 8–12, 1996. Part 2), Vladivostok, 1996, pp. 150–151.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Kleinenberg, S.Ye., Yablokov, A.L., Bel’kovich, V.M., and Tarasevich, M.N., Belukha (Beluga Whale), Moscow: Nauka, 1964.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Matishov, G.G. and Ognetov, G.N., Belukha Delphinapterus leucas arkticheskikh morei Rossii: biologiya, ekologiya, okhrana i ispol’zovaniye resursov (Beluga Whale Delphinapterus leucas in Arctic Seas of Russia: Biology, Ecology, Conservation, and Use of the Resource), Apatity: Izd. KNTs RAN, 2006. 295 pp.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Mel’nikov, I.V., Results of Assessment of Herring Stock in the Northern Sea of Okhotsk Based on Trawl Surveys 2000, Izv. TINRO-Tsentra, 2002, vol. 130, pp. 1142–1158.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Meshcherskii, I.G., Kholodova, M.V., and Zvychainaya, Ye.Yu., Molecular and Genetic Characteristics of Belugas (Delphinapterus leucas: Cetacea, Monodontidae) summering in the Southern Sea of Okhotsk as Compared to North American Populations, Genetika, 2008, vol. 44,iss. 9, pp. 1268–1274.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Fedoseev, G.A., Occurrence of Whales in Ice Massifs of the Sea of Okhotsk, Ekologiya, 1984, no. 3, pp. 81–83.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    De March, B.G.E. and Postma, L.D., Molecular Genetic Stock Discrimination of Belugas (Delphinapterus leucas) Hunted in Eastern Hudson Bay, Northern Quebec, Hudson Strait, and Sanikiluaq (Belcher Islands), Canada, and Comparisons to Adjacent Populations, Arctic, 2003, vol. 56, no. 2, pp. 111–124.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Hobbs, R.C., Laidre, K.L., Vos, D.J., et al. Movements and Area Use of Belugas, Delphinapterus leucas, in a Subarctic Alaskan Estuary, Arctic, 2005, vol. 58, no. 4, pp. 331–340.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Melnikov, V.V., The Beluga Whale (Delphinapterus leucas) of the Sea of Okhotsk, Rep. Int. Whal. Comm. SC/51/SM27, 1999, pp. 1–10.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    O’Corry-Crowe, G.M., Beluga Whale, in Encyclopedia of marine mammals, San Diego: Academic Press, 2002, pp. 94–98.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Suydam, R., Lowry, F., Frost, K., O’Corry-Crowe, G., and Pikok, D. Jr., Satellite Tracking of Eastern Chukchi Sea Beluga Whales into the Arctic Ocean, Arctic, 2001, vol. 54, no. 3, pp. 237–243.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Pleiades Publishing, Ltd. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • O. V. Shpak
    • 1
  • R. D. Andrews
    • 2
  • D. M. Glazov
    • 1
  • D. I. Litovka
    • 3
  • R. C. Hobbs
    • 4
  • L. M. Mukhametov
    • 1
  1. 1.A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and EvolutionRussian Academy of SciencesMoscowRussia
  2. 2.School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences and the Alaska SeaLife CenterUniversity of Alaska FairbanksSewardUSA
  3. 3.Chukchi Branch of the Pacific Research Fisheries Center (ChukotTINRO)AnadyrRussia
  4. 4.National Marine Mammal LaboratoryAlaska Fisheries Science CenterSeattleUSA

Personalised recommendations