Habitat, status and threats
Living areas around the North Pole
Icewhales live on the edge of the ice around the North Pole. Nowadays we distinguish four subpopulations. These subpopulations are separated from each other by more or less unbridgeable barriers. Examples include an impenetrable solid ice pack that extends up to the coast, such as in Siberia. Or a land mass such as the Kamchatka peninsula that separates the population of the Okhotsk Sea from that of the Bering Sea. It is not clear to what extent mixing of populations occurs due to the decrease in the ice surface of the North Pole. Just as ships are increasingly able to navigate between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans through the northwestern passage, Icewhales could be doing the same. Populations that have developed separately for thousands of years can now mingle. Do these animals understand each other’s whale songs? And if mixing does occur, what does that mean for genetic diversity?