Blue Whale numbers

From: Phil Clapham (
Date: Wed Oct 10 2001 - 13:59:40 EDT


We really don't know how many blue whales are left in the world's
oceans. Because they often travel far from land and also dive a lot
beneath the surface, blue whales (and other whales) are very difficult
to count accurately. But here's what we think...

Of all the blue whale populations in the world, the only one that seems
to be doing very wel is the one that feeds off California. The
population estimates are around 2,000 animals, and sicne two different
scientific methods were used (which agreed), it's probably a pretty
reliable number. Blue whales everywhere else seem to be in big
trouble. In the North Atlantic, there may be anywhere from a few
hundred to over a thousand (depending on who you believe), but there's
no good estimate. In the Southern Hemisphere, there are probably fewer
than a thousna left - and this is in an area where the population before
whaling was probably a few hundred thousand. In the 20th century the
whaling countries killed 360,000 blue whales in just the Southern
Hemisphere alone!

The Society for Marine Mammalogy will be holding its 14th Biennial
Conference from 28 November to 3 December 2001, in Vancouver, BC.  Visit
the conference Web site at for full details of
this important meeting.

Phillip J. Clapham, Ph.D. Large Whale Biology Program Protected Species Branch Northeast Fisheries Science Center 166 Water Street Woods Hole, MA 02543, U.S.A.

tel. 508 495-2316 fax 508 495-2066 email:

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