Russian scientific expedition to monitor endangered gray whales off Sakhalin Island

From: NZWeek

A group of scientists from the Far East Branch of the Russian Academy of Science (RAS) left here for Sakhalin coasts on Thursday to monitor an endangered population of gray whales listed in the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List of Threatened Species.

According to the scientists, every summer 120 to 140 gray whales come to the Sea of Okhotsk for feeding. They have been studying western gray whales for years.

This year, the scientists and biology students will count the animals and learn about their behavior.

The specialists will also use the method of photo identification: take pictures of the animals from different angles and then compare with pictures of the past years.

The scientific expedition off the coast of Sakhalin Island will last till the migration of gray whales which usually starts in September.

There are two populations of gray whale: eastern and western. The IUCN regards western gray whales in the northwest Pacific as “critically endangered.” There are only about 130 western gray whales left in the world.

In addition to Russian experts, scientists from the United States and Europe monitor them as well.

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