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Distribution, Migration, and Depletion of Bowhead Whales in Hudson Bay, 1860 to 1915

W. Gillies Ross
Arctic and Alpine Research
Vol. 6, No. 1 (Winter, 1974), pp. 85-98
DOI: 10.2307/1550373
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1550373
Page Count: 14
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Distribution, Migration, and Depletion of Bowhead Whales in Hudson Bay, 1860 to 1915
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Abstract

Logbooks and journals of American and British whalers and of Hudson's Bay Company vessels are used to reconstruct the summer distribution of Balaena mysticetus in Hudson Bay from 1860 to 1915. The whales were concentrated in the northwestern part of the Bay between Marble Island and Lyon Inlet. The location of kills in each month and the dates of first sightings in the spring and last sightings in the fall suggest migrations north and south through Roes Welcome Sound, but the possibility of a separate movement through Frozen Strait is not ruled out. Evidence for winter residence in Hudson Bay is inconclusive. The total number of kills, an average of results obtained by three methods, amounts to at least 688, of which 62% were in the first decade. The decline of the whale stock to very low levels by 1915, when whaling ceased, was the result of intense hunting pressure by over-wintering whalemen upon a localized whale population confined by land and ice, at a time when killing was unrestricted as to size, sex, or numbers.

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