Conservation measures have helped the California Blue Whales to recover in numbers which can be described as sustainable. Experts say that the California Blue Whale is the only Blue Whale Species which has recovered after being hunted almost to extinction.
The research team estimates that there are now 2,200 of these giant creatures on the eastern side of the Pacific Ocean. However there are lurking dangers which can tip the balance. Blue Whales are vulnerable to being struck by ships.
Blue Whales are really the denizens of the deep and can grow up to 33 m and can weigh a colossal 190 tones. Blue Whale is the biggest animal on the planet. The California Blue Whale swims close to the coast of the state. They can be found from the Gulf of Alaska down to Costa Rica. Experts now say that California Blue Whales have reached 97% of their historical levels.
Whaling continued in the cold waters of Antarctica until it was banned in 1966 and by then more than 346,000 whales fell to the harpoon. The number of Blue Whales killed in the Pacific Ocean was miniscule in comparison, approximately 3,400 between 1905 and 1971.Most of this killing was carried out by the Russian fleets. Most of the information was kept under wrap during the Soviet era and it is only now that scientists have been able to access to the information in the archives.
There are two types of Blue Whale population, the California group and the other which live in the waters near Japan and Russia
Dr Trevor Branch from the University of Washington said, “We were trying to separate the catches into east and west, but we didn’t know the boundary between the two. So we used the current locations of where they sing to figure out the dividing line. Their repetitive calls are different.”
By being able to work out the exact number lost to whaling, the research team was able to calculate the historic population of the Blue Whale. The main worry today is about ship strikes and most of the incidents of collision happen off the coast of California. Authorities are compensating merchant ships and asking them to slow down.
On an average there are 11 strikes per year which is much lower than the historic catches. However in the coming times there will be an 11 fold increase in ships and there is a 50% possibility of the population to fall below the levels which are considered as depleted by experts.