Two cetacean species, bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus) and beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas), occur regularly in the Beaufort Sea
from midspring through early fall, migrating to the region to feed in areas that overlap with offshore oil and gas development.
Canada's National Energy Board recently issued a report that warned of operational limitations in the Arctic, including an observation that conditions in the region, including the Beaufort Sea
, are too harsh to send out spill response teams on at least one day out of five.
Some patches of Arctic ground along the Beaufort Sea
are as much as 70 percent ice by volume.
With added development on the Canadian side, the entire length of the Beaufort Sea
would have oil and gas activity.
When Bishop Stringer arrived at Herschel Island in 1893, whaling ships were active in the Beaufort Sea
, but the Europeans brought alcohol and disease to the native population along with trade goods.
Alaska State Senator John Torgerson has introduced a bill into the state legislature which would prohibit leases under the Right of Way Leasing Act on state-owned submerged lands in the Beaufort Sea
. If the bill becomes law, it would prohibit the northern, or over-the-top, Alaska gas pipeline route leading from gas fields on the North Slope east to the Canadian Arctic, one of major routes under consideration.
The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) is an area of land located in the northeast corner of Alaska within the Arctic Circle that includes a potentially oil-rich coastal plain between the Beaufort Sea
, the Brooks Range, and the Prudhoe Bay oil fields.
The upwelling of this "older" water in the Arctic Ocean and Beaufort Sea
may help explain why industrial or agricultural chemicals used decades ago are only now being detected in regions of the High Arctic.
"There are four Aboriginal youth coming from the Arctic, being sent by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, from the Beaufort Sea
area," said Westhead.
From April through June, these whales migrate north and east, following leads in the sea ice in the eastern Chukchi Sea until they pass Point Barrow where they travel east toward the southeastern Beaufort Sea
(Braham et al., 1980; Brahametal., 1984; Marko and Fraker(18).