Blue whales

From: Phil Clapham (
Date: Tue Sep 10 2002 - 15:11:20 EDT

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    Hello Emilyyy:

    > 1. how and why has the population of the blue whale changed?
    The blue whgale was first hunted in any sort of real numbers beginning
    in around 1900, when modern whaling began. before then blue whales were
    just too fast for the old-time whalers, and it neded the invention of
    the steam engine and the explosive harpoon before they could really
    become a serious target for whaling. But whalers made it for that:
    between 1904 and the 1960's, around 370,000 blue whales were killed in
    the Southern Hemisphere alone, and many thousands more were killed in
    the Northern Hemisphere. We don't know how many blues there were before
    whaling, but the world population was clearly in the hundreds of
    thousands. Whaling wiped out more than 95% of these magnificent
    animals. Today the only population which is doing well is the one off
    California (there are around 2000 blues there). In the Southern Ocean,
    where once probably a quarter million blues lived, there are now
    probably fewer than a thousand left. A couple of populations - off
    Japan and the island of South George in the Atlantic - seem to have been
    wiped out completely. It's a real tragedy.

    > 2. The actions taken to protect the blue whale
    Blues were protected by international agreement in the 1960's, although
    the Soviet Union continued to kill them secretly and illegally for some
    years after that (they took 10,000 blues illegally). Blues today are
    protected worldwide, and like all whales are fully protected in US
    > 3. where can they be found?
    Everywhere. They range very widely from coastal waters to deep ocean,
    and are found all over the world. In the US, they are found mostly off
    the west coast.

    Hope this helps!
    Phil Clapham

    > Thank You,
    > Emily guralnik
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    Phillip J. Clapham, Ph.D. Large Whale Biology Program 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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