The hunting of the Greenland right whale in Svalbard, its interaction with climate and its impact on the marine ecosystem

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Hacquebord, Louwrens (1999)

During the 17th and 18th centuries, tens of thousands of Greenland right whales were killed as a result of extensive European whaling in the coastal waters of the Svalbard archipelago. The author reconstructed these whaling activities, examined how the changing climate affected whaling productivity, and considered the consequences of climate and whaling on the species and on the North Atlantic ecosystem. Annual catch records made it possible to calculate the original size of the whale population; its natural migration pattern in the Greenland Sea could be reconstructed using shipping logs and itineraries. Other written sources revealed that besides human hunting activities, climate change played an important role in the elimination of the Greenland right whale from the Arctic marine ecosystem. This elimination made millions of plankton available for other marine mammals, polar cod and planktonfeeding birds. This has caused a major shift in the food web. changing the marine ecosystem in Svalbard.
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