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IWC POWER Research Programme prepares for next phase.

IWC-POWER is a long term programme aiming to increase understanding of the status of whales in the eastern and central North Pacific, predominantly areas which have not been surveyed for 40 years.  The international collaboration has so far involved experts from Japan, USA, Mexico, UK, Australia and the Republic of Korea.  Japan has also donated a vessel and crew, without which the annual research cruise would not be possible.

The programme is entering its sixth year.  Five research cruises have been completed and the initial, short term phase of the project is nearing completion.  A large amount of information has already been gathered, including species distribution maps and over two hundred skin biopsy samples.  Further analysis of the data will be conducted, but the information already available has enabled the team to identify priority issues and species for the next phase.  This medium term work will seek to obtain abundance estimates for fin, sei and North Pacific right whales. 

Ongoing assessment and refinement is integral to any long term research programme.  The 2014 IWC-POWER cruise recorded an unexpected number of Bryde’s whale sightings, and collection of an unprecedented 78 Bryde’s skin biopsy samples.  The sixth IWC-POWER research cruise is scheduled to leave port in July 2015.  It will focus on the abundance and stock structure of Bryde’s whales.  It will also seek to establish base-line information on distribution, stock structure and abundance for other species in the region, including those known to have been depleted in the past, but whose current status is unclear.

For more information on the IWC-POWER research programme click here.

To view the IWC-POWER photo gallery click here.