Science

Arctic Sea Ice Loss Affects Beluga Migration

By Rodney Rafols , Jan 06, 2017 01:38 AM EST
VANCOUVER, CANADA - JULY 24: Aurora, a 14-year-old beluga whale, swims with her newborn unnamed calf at the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre July 24, 2002 in Vancouver, Canada. Aurora gave birth to the 110 pound male calf July 20, 2002 at the centre. This is Aurora's second calf. Her first, Qila, is female and was born July 23, 1995 at the centre. (Photo : Don MacKinnon/Getty Images)

Global warming and climate change affects not just people, but even animals. Sea creatures are affected by global warming as well. Arctic sea lice loss affects beluga migration as well as its habitat.

While sea ice loss doesn't affect some sea creatures, others have been affected by it. This is the case with beluga, where some beluga species have been affected while others have not. The Arctic Sea is taking longer to freeze because of a rise in ocean temperature. This has been affecting beluga migration, which can disrupt the ecosystem there as well.

Beluga in general can respond to climate change fairly easily. This has been observed by Donna Hauser, lead author of the study and a postdoctoral researcher from the University of Washington. She has said that study of beluga migration could be complicated because not all beluga species respond in the same way towards climate change.

Two types of beluga population are in the Bering Sea in the winter, according to UW Today. These two beluga populations are genetically distinct from one another. These are the Chukchi beluga and the Beaufort beluga.

The Chukchi beluga time their migration based on how much ice is in the sea. Lesser ice would make them delay their migration. The Beaufort beluga though isn't affected by this and would still feed into the Bering Sea regardless of ice condition there, as Science Daily notes.

Studies about the beluga whale are just starting. Not too much information has been known about them, since the beluga lives in some of the harshest places known. Overall though migrations of whales have been changing. Whales are now seeing migration patterns change within a generation. Usually such changes would take many generations before it would be established.

The migration data for beluga whales have been taken from two different time periods. One data was taken in in the 1990s while the other was in the 2000s. The two data has shown researchers when beluga groups would pass by certain key areas in their migration route. Through this, the researchers have been able to note changes in migration behavior in the different beluga groups.

As climate change continues, different animals respond to it in different ways. Arctic Sea ice loss affects beluga migration, which can have consequences on the ecosystem. In another news, the world's oldest killer whale has died.

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