The California blue whale is back. After spending time on the endangered species list, the blue whale is making a comeback. The total population has recovered from whaling activities.
A study published in the journal Marine Mammal Science shows that the blue whale’s population has seen a resurgence. They are the first whale species to do so, and shows that conservation efforts work.
The California blue whale is quite the mammal. It clocks in at 100 feet long and weighs in at over 200 tons. That puts them at the top of the largest animals on Earth. For some perspective, the blue whale weighs two to three times as much as the largest dinosaur. Even their blowhole is outsized. An exhalation from the whale can send water 30 feet high.
Even at their size, they don’t give up speed in the water. The California blue whale has been known to hit 20 mph when agitated.
Previous research showed that whaling severely depleted the population. With efforts to scale that back, the population is hitting around 2,200. Before this study, scientists thought that the pre-whaling population was greater than this. New research is theorizing that the carrying capacity is around this number. We are at 97% of the historic population of the blue whale, pre-whaling.
Research has shown a slowing population growth, leading the study authors to believe that California has always had a relatively small population of the gigantic whales. Even man-made dangers to the whales do not represent a serious hazard to the population. Last year, 11 whales were struck by boats.
Cole Monnahan, lead author, called the population growth a conservation success story. Granted, even with the success, it wouldn’t kill us to avoid striking the whales with boats. Let’s keep the success story rolling. Also, this is just one whale species. Now, conservation efforts need to focus on other endangered whales. Halting whaling activities globally would be a good place to start.
Read the full study here.
IMG Credit: Wikipedia