The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says U.S. and Russia researchers will begin the largest-ever survey of ice seals in the Bering Sea off Alaska's west coast.
The aerial survey will begin this week from Nome.
The agency says in an announcement that scientists will use advanced imaging systems and modern statistical techniques for estimates of ribbon seals, spotted seals, bearded seals and ringed seals.
The agency says five- to seven-hour survey flights also will be sent out from Bethel, Dillingham and St. Paul Island, the largest of the Pribilof Islands in the Bering Sea.
The agency says the survey will continue into May and will include nearly 19,000 nautical miles over U.S. waters and 11,000 nautical miles over Russian waters.