Subject: Blue Whale-threats/causes of death/how to help

Lori Mazzuca (lorim@soest.hawaii.edu)
Sat, 10 May 1997 16:09:55 -1000 (HST)

Dear Elizabeth,
	Thank you for your questions:
1. Why are the Blue whales near extinction?

	Commercial whaling that began in the late 1700's and lasted until
the late 1960's is the reason for the near extinction status of all of
the great whale species today, except the minke whale (the smallest of the
great whales). The blue whale, the largest of the great whales and the
largest animal to have ever lived on earth, was the first whaled to near
extinction.  The whalers were mainly after the oil in the whales body. The
blue whale was so large that the amount of oil they got from a blue whale
they deemed a "blue whale" unit.  After the blue whales had been whaled to
near extinction and were hardly seen, the whalers went after the next
largest whale which was the Fin whale.  It took 2 Fin whales to equal a
blue whale unit.  They whaled on down the line until commercial whaling
was banned. That was just in time to save the minke whale, the smallest.
It took about 20 minke whales to equal a blue whale unit of oil. Today,
the little minke whale is being taken for consumption and some of the
other great whales (that are endangered species) are taken as well.
	Pick up any book about whales and you will find a chapter
dedicated to the history of commercial whaling.  I have given you the
readers digest version
	
2. What are the threats to, and causes of death of, the Blue whale?
	Threats and causes of death today range from actively being hunted
for consumption to pollution to natural predators.  Organized groups of 
Orcas (or killer whales) have been observed attacking a blue whale, even
though the blue whale is much larger. The Orca is a top predator and
usually nothing can escape their organized attack.
	DNA of the blue whale, and other endangered whales, is showing up
in cans of whale meat in countries that are allowed to take the minke
whale only.  Norway, Japan, and Iceland are among countries that are
hunting the minke whale for consumption under a "take" allowed within the
Internation Whaling Commission's guidleines. The current moratorium (or
worldwide ban on whaling) provides these countries access to take the
animals under a controversial definition of a scientific research permit.
	Pollution, driftnets, fishing gear, global warming, etc.  All of
these household words are having an impact on all marine life.  The ocean
is filled with debris that the whales may either eat and/or become
entangled in. The threat of global warming threatens the food source of
the blue whale and threatens to irreversibly damage the entire marine
ecosystem. For example, there is an algae that lives under the ice edge at
the poles.  Smaller organisms, like plankton and zooplankton, feed on
this algae.  Larger organisms feed on the plankton and zooplankton.  Fish 
that feed on these larger organisms are what the whales eat.  A few
degrees raise in temperature melts this ice....which triggers the first
domino----that eventually leaves the whales to starve.  
	The important thing to remember is that everything is connected,
just like the links of a chain. One thing cannot happen without effecting
the other links in the chain.

3. How can people your age and/or you make a difference in saving this
   species and other species of whales?

	Exactly what you are doing right now will help.  The more you
learn about it, the more you can teach others what is happening.  Much of
the damage that humans have inflicted on the planet is due to our own
ignorance.  We need to learn,learn, learn.  I would say to find your
passion and go from there.  Even if it ends up to be whales, there are
many avenues you could take.  Today, people who love whales and are
concerned for their well being, are writing, singing, researching,
photographing, painting, drawing, sculpting, and many more things having
to do with them.  All seem to share the same interest, yet manifest it
differently.  You might find that there is something else in the ocean
that interests you.  The ocean is FULL of life forms---and all need our
help. 
	I hope these answers help you for your project--and for your
future working to save the whales and their home, the ocean!

Sincerely,
Lori Mazzuca
On Sat, 10 May 1997, Jim Lloyd wrote:

> 
> 
>     Dear Lori Mazzuca,               May 10,97
> 
>             I'm a grade six student and my class is 
> doing a project on whales.  I chose to do the Blue 
> Whale and I'm wondering what the whales enemies are 
> and how come their becoming extinct. I would also like 
> to know how people my age (or just myself) can make a 
> difference and save this whale.
> 
> 
>                   Thanks for your help,
>  
>                         Elizabeth Lloyd
> 
> 
>