In a positive development, the endangered blue whale population in the waters off California is recovering to its historic level due effective conservative efforts.
According to a new Marine Mammal Science study, the endangered blue whales have not rebounded to their sustainable population level for the first time in years but the uncontrolled human interference continues to pose serious threat to them.
Talking about the ‘conservation success story’ in a press release, lead author Cole Monnahan from University of Washington, said, “The recovery of California blue whales from whaling demonstrates their ability to rebuild under careful management and conservation measures.”
The largest mammal, which is also considered to be highly intelligent and social, are found along the west North American coast, spread from Alaska to equatorial regions. Humans can spot them when they are floating between 20 and 30 miles offshore.
Environmentalists and animal activists say the hunters have nearly driven the population of blue whales to extinction. The current estimated population of blue whales is somewhere around 2,200 individuals. According to the scientists, the figure is about 97 percent of historical averages. California’s blue whale population is the only known worldwide to have rebounded from whaling after undergoing extinction.
The official report shows the whalers killed 3,400 members of the species during the period between 1905 and 1971.
Trevor Branch, assistant professor of aquatic and fishery sciences at the University of Washington, said, “Considering the 3,400 caught against the 346,000 caught near Antarctica gives an idea how much smaller the blue whale population of California was likely to have been.”
Researchers say even if the current trend shows that the blue whales are recovering back, but they are now facing a new danger amid their tremendous success story. These marine animals continue to face more frequent collisions with ships.
During the study period, they came across a finding that their population growth has slowed in recent times.
Along the US West Coast at least 11 blue whales struck per year. According to the researchers, these numbers are much above than the allowable limits.
Under the US Marine Mammal Protection Act, “potential biological removal” of only 3.1 whales per year is allowed.
Stating in a press release, Branch said, “In our perspective, there should be no ship strikes at all and they are over the legal limit. They have to do something to stop it. But 11 per year is so much lower than historic catches.”
The study was published in the journal Marine Mammal Science.