Blue whales have been the victims of large-scale whaling, which is prevalent because of the associated monetary benefits. This has led to the quick depletion of the mammals, but fortunately, this population has rebounded, according to scientists. Research teams have estimated that on the eastern side of the Pacific Ocean, there could be 2,200 blue whales living.
Number of blue whales rebounds
The count of the California blue whales has reached 97% of its historical level, as written by researchers from the University of Washington in the journal Marine Mammal Science. The research team believes that the growth in population has slowed as their numbers have reached a level that the ocean system can support. Starting from the Gulf of Alaska, they can be found all the way to Costa Rica.
The colder waters of the Antarctic were the preferred destination of the whalers, who used harpoons to kill the giant creatures. Nearly 346,000 blue whales lost their life due to whaling before a ban was put on the practice in 1966. The number of blue whales caught in the Pacific between 1905 and 1971 was around 3,400.
Soviet regime kept data secret
Russian fleets were held responsible for the hunting that took place. Much of the information has been obtained by scientists from the archives that were kept secret by the Soviet regime. The types of blue whales that were caught cannot be inferred from the location and size of the catches, however.
Two distinct populations of the whales exist: the California group and others that live near Japan and Russia. Scientists applauded the conservation efforts in the California area. But not all the whale populations have been able to rebound. For instance, the number of blue whales in Antarctica is just 1% of its historical level.
“California blue whales are recovering because we took actions to stop catches and start monitoring,” said lead author Cole Monnahan, who’s from the University of Washington. Monnahan added that if these steps were not taken, the population of the blue whales might “have been pushed to near extinction.”
These whales stand the risk of being struck by ships, which still worries scientists, however. Blue whales are the largest animals on the planet, measuring 33 meters in length and weighing as much as 190 tons.