Antarctic blue whales appear to be recovering after being nearly wiped out by humans

Listening to their song, scientists create optimistic hypotheses about the conditions of Antarctic blue whales, the largest animals in the world.

  • A study based on 15 years of observations of Antarctic blue whales has been published.
  • Scientists have recorded their singing much more regularly, indicating the status of the species.
  • Over the last century, their population has increased from 125,000 to 3,000 specimens.

They are animals biggest on the planet, with a length of up to thirty meters (about the size of a basketball court) and a weight of two hundred tons (in Italy, a loaded truck will carry 44). However, this did not prevent man from exterminating them to the point of near extinction. We are talking about Antarctic blue whales; Balaenoptera musculus intermedia, use their scientific name. A study published by Frontiers in Marine Science and based on fifteen years of surveys reaches hopeful conclusions: in fact, their population appears to be recovering.

A study of the singing of Antarctic blue whales

In addition to being the largest living creatures, Antarctic blue whales are also the loudest. Their i sing it can reach 180 decibels, about the same as a rocket launch. And it’s just collecting recordings the sound of their song, which scientists tracked the health of species in Antarctic and sub-Antarctic latitudes, cross-referencing the data with video footage, photographs and other observations. The newly published research compiles and interprets a large amount of data collected between 2006 and 2021. During these fifteen years, the researchers found that i sing whales are be more regular.

A result that matches well with the result of the expedition he made British Antarctic Survey in 2020. After returning from a remote island South Georgia in the South Atlantic Ocean, scientists reported sightings of 55 Antarctic blue whales. A number they described as “unprecedented”.

There is hope for the future of a species that man has driven almost to extinction

If so much attention is paid to the conditions of Antarctic blue whales, it is also because the species has experienced and an alarming decline over the last century. According to the animal protection organization WWF, whaling in the South Atlantic Ocean began in 1904. The International Whaling Commission (IWC) was established in 1946 and only in 1982 did it impose a moratorium on commercial whaling. In 1926 it was estimated that there were approx 125 thousand copies blue whales; in 2018 there are barely any left three thousand. So much so that the species has been classified as “Critically Endangered” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.

The research published in Frontiers in Marine Sciences alone is not enough to say whether Antarctic blue whales are safe. Authors various hypotheses are put forward on why their singing became more regular: it could depend on their behavior, their spread, the increase in their population or even the fact that scientists are able to catch them more often. Further investigation will be required for a definitive answer. Undoubtedly, however, these first evidences they inspire hope.


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