Aerial surveys have discovered teams of as much as 150 fin whales feeding close to Antarctica, an indication that populations have bounced again since for the reason that 1976 ban on looking these whales


7 July 2022

Fin whale in front of iceberg

A fin whale close to Elephant Island, Antarctica

Dan Beecham

Giant teams of southern fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus quoyi) have been seen within the Antarctic for the primary time since since a moratorium on business whaling got here into power in 1986.

Fin whales are the second largest species of whale on the planet, measuring 22 metres lengthy on common and weighing 70 tonnes. Their numbers dramatically dwindled within the Antarctic within the 20th century as they had been hunted for his or her oil.

Fin whale looking within the southern hemisphere has been prohibited since 1976. Since then, there have been anecdotal sightings of the whales round Antarctica, however no main survey assessing their numbers.

Helena Herr on the College of Hamburg in Germany travelled to the Weddell Sea in Antarctica in 2018 on the icebreaker Polarstern.

Utilizing a helicopter, the researchers surveyed 3251 kilometres of ocean between April 2018 and March 2019. The crew counted 100 teams of fin whales, consisting of as much as 4 whales, and eight unusually massive teams of as much as 150 whales feeding collectively.

“I actually love seeing whales from the air as a result of it’s spectacular to have them at such a detailed distance and to listen to them,” says Herr. “I even love the splashes of water in your face – it feels such as you’re amongst them and becoming a member of them of their feeding frenzy.”

Herr and her colleagues estimate that there are near 8000 fin whales within the space in complete.

She says the restoration of those whales is in the end a excellent news story. “However we shouldn’t neglect that local weather change continues to be a risk and that we have to be sure that this story can proceed,” she says.

Journal reference: Scientific Stories, DOI: 10.1038/s41598-022-13798-7

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