Featured Image Credit: SHANEGROSS/ISTOCKPHOTO
By: Sarah Sharkey
Whaling in Antarctic waters was something that happening as early as 1890. The whaling industry decimated populations of large baleen whales to the brink of extinction. Blue whales were a part of this group until the entire world agreed to come together and ban the hunting of blue whales globally.
This global ban happened in the 1980s. Now, over thirty years later, the blue whale population is not even close to half of their pre-whaling population size. Fin whales and southern right whales are also not close to half of their pre-whaling population sizes.
According to researchers, blue, fins and southern right whales are not expected to reach half of their pre-whaling population sizes by 2100. This is due to a combination of factors such as their slow reproduction rate and the effect of climate change on their food sources.
The study reached these conclusions by looking at how these blue whale populations responded to different pressures based on the records of the past 127 years. Dr. Eva Plaganyi of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) said this about the study, “Our MICE model uses whale numbers dating back from 1890 to now and then couples this with food availability and ocean physics to understand the changes to ocean conditions that whales are likely to experience.”
Hopefully, information like this will help guide conservation efforts in the future.
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