In an encouraging development, a new finding has indicated that the population of blue whales that has gone endangered in California has probably recovered to near pre-whaling levels. But unfortunately the human interference continues to pose serious threat to these first set of blue whales, according to a new Marine Mammal Science study.
“The recovery of California blue whales from whaling demonstrates their ability to rebuild under careful management and conservation measures,” lead author Cole Monnahan, from University of Washington, said in a press release.
According to the researchers, California’s blue whale population is the only known in the world to have recovered from whaling after facing the extinction.
The researchers’ team says about 2,200 California blue whales are in existence and the number seems low but the figures actually represent about 97 percent of the historical level.
Multiple methods and measurement techniques, including acoustic data, were used to estimate the population of California blue whale. The researchers said that they adopted unique technique for the study of California blue whale population so that they can be easily differentiated with their counterparts belonging to another population in waters offshore Japan and Russia coast. According to the researchers, whales appear to be different from each other in their calls.
During the study, the researchers also came across a disappointing finding that showed that the number of these blue whales struck by ships is likely above the allowable limits.
Researchers say at least 11 blue whales struck a year along the US West Coast. These figures are much above the allowable limits.
The US Marine Mammal Protection Act allows “potential biological removal” of only 3.1 whales per year.
According to the researchers, there could be an 11-fold rise in ships before there is a 50 percent chance of decline in the California blue whale population, which is considered “depleted” by regulators.
“It’s a conservation success story,” the researchers said.
Co-author Trevor Branch said, “Even accepting our results that the current level of ship strikes is not going to cause overall population declines, there is still going to be ongoing concern that we don’t want these whales killed by ships.”
The researchers also stressed that the study findings do not suggest deprivation of protection to California blue whales. They underlined that the conservation stories must continue so that the recovering California blue whales population does not meet the fate of its other blue whale populations.
The study was published in the journal Marine Mammal Science.
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