DURHAM, N.C. – The Western Gray Whale Advisory Panel, an international scientific board that includes Duke University marine scientist Doug Nowacek, will post an online information session later this month to answer questions about its ongoing monitoring and mitigation efforts to protect western gray whales near Russia’s Sakhalin Island.

The western gray whale population came very close to extinction and is now slowly recovering.  The waters around Sakhalin Island are a critical habitat for the species. 
The online information session will be posted at www.iucn.org/wgwap.
In 2004, the International Union for Conservation of Nature joined forces with Sakhalin Energy Investment Company Ltd., an oil and gas consortium, to minimize potential risks to the whales from the company’s operations in the island’s vicinity.

In 2006, IUCN convened an international scientific panel, at the request of Sahkalin Energy, to advise the company on long-term monitoring and conservation efforts.

“The panel provides a mechanism for the exchange of information and opinion among stakeholders, and for scientifically rigorous independent assessment.  Moreover, it can serve as a model of how business, scientists and the conservation community can work constructively and nonconfrontationally to address environmental issues,” says panel member Nowacek, who is Repass-Rodgers University Associate Professor of Conservation Technology and Associate Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering at Duke.