Whale Population Statistics

From: Phil Clapham (phillip.clapham@noaa.gov)
Date: Mon Oct 15 2001 - 08:03:54 EDT


The reason youre having problems finding historical estimates is because
they either dont exist or they're highly unreliable. The problem is
that we just dont have enough information in most cases to get even a
vague idea of what pre-whaling population sizes were. Various people
have come up with methods to estimate historic sizes for some
populations, but I'm not sure I'd trust any of these numbers - the data
are lousy and it's mostly guesswork.

In the Southern Hemisphere, you can get some idea of how many whales
there must once have been from looking at catch totals, since the
whaling industry almost wiped out the populations of several species.
FYI, here are 20th century southern hemisphere totals, including numbers
for illegal Soviet catches (note that some Soviet takes - such as those
for fin whales - were actually overreported to cover up catches of
other, protected species).

          Reported Unreported
Species catches Soviet catches Total
Fin 735,087 -9,971 725,116
Blue 351,645 8,999 360,644
Humpback 162,528 45,831 208,359
Sei 179,923 23,615 203,538
Sperm 380,013 21,657 401,670
Right 988 3,350 4,338
Bryde's 6,310 1,447 7,757
Minke 117,469 -901 116,568
Unspec 11,631 - 11,631
Total 1,945,594 94,027 2,039,621

I hope this helps. You may find someone willing to give you pre-whaling
estimates, but I'm not him... for the most part I think this is just
anexercise in creative guesswork.

Phil Clapham

> BCS wrote:
> Mr Clapham
> I am having trouble finding any historical statistics on total world
> whale populations. Can you please assist with an appropriate site or
> some data?
> Thank you for your assistance
> Robert Scott
> buscon@bigpond.net.au

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 www.smmconference.org 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: phillip.clapham@noaa.gov

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