A surge in the number of whales living off the coast of Southern California is apparently making the seas a more dangerous place, despite the generally pleasant disposition of the whales themselves. The increase in the whales, which include specimens of the Blue Whale, the world’s biggest animal, has been labelled as dangerous for shipping lanes, and there has been an apparent rise in the number of accidents involving the animals.
Blue whales cause ships trouble
According to a Fox report on the activity of whales in the area, researchers are warning that the increase in the number of Blue Whales should be a cause for concern. The scientists, which were monitoring the movements of blue whales tagged with geolocators off of the Californian coast, said that shipping lanes off of Los Angeles and San Francisco are two of the places most heavily traveled by the animals.
Ladd Irvine, a marine biologist from Oregon State University who helped to author the study, which was published under the name “Spatial and Temporal Occurrence of Blue Whales off the U.S. West Coast, with Implications for Management,” said “The blue whales need to find the densest food supply. There’s a limited number of those dense places, and it seems as though two of the main regular spots are crossed by the shipping lanes.”
Blue Whales are thought to be the biggest species that has ever lived on earth. The animals are colossal, weighing up to 330,000 lbs and measuring more than 100 feet long. Despite their intimidating size the animals are, from a human perspective, incredibly docile. They feed by filtering small aquatic life as they swim rather than hunting.
The animals are endangered and one reason for their ecological problems could more direct interaction between man and whale than either would hope for. In 2008 five dead blue whales were found in the pacific ocean, and three of them were confirmed to have been hit and killed by ships. The study by Irvine et al. suggests that collisions may be one of the reasons the population of the animals remains so low.
Whale explosion difficult to explain
The increase in the number of whale sightings off of the coast of California is not being easily explained by scientists, but there are a number of possibilities. El Nino, a wide-reaching climate event that those on the west coast are well aware of, is supposed to appear this year bringing warmer than usual temperatures to the region. If that is indeed happening, the warmer oceans may be supporting more life than usual, and whales may be arriving to feed.
According to The Epoch Times, Bryde’s whale, a whale mostly found in the tropics, has been seen several times off of the coast of California in recent weeks. Bryde’s whale is smaller than its Blue cousin, measuring about 50 feet long and weighing around 90,000 pounds. Should the whales be moving northward. There have been no reports about their involvement with the local shipping community just yet.