Subject: questions

NAMMACETA@aol.com
Wed, 31 Mar 1999 18:40:58 EST

Blue whales were so intensely hunted during the 20th century because the
technology to capture and deal with the carcass didn't exist prior to the 20th
C.  Earlier efforts just couldn't catch and handle such an enormous animal.
Also, many blue whale populations spend a great deal of time in ice pack
waters.  Smaller, wooden vessels couldn't negotiate these waters, let alone
get there in a reasonable time span.
Also, while blue whales were not being hunted, many other species were being
decimated.  So, when the technology existed, a whole new species was available
for exploitation.


The pop. does not seem to be increasing in any noticeable way.   Like any
whale species, they produce one calf every two to three years.  With
populations reduced by more than 90%, it takes awhile to see improvements in
numbers.

Attempts to understand blue whale migratory routes and reproduction patterns
worldwide are underway in relatively small efforts due to logistics and money.
Conservation is through habitat protection.

Some populations were reduced to such low numbers that inbreeding, and just
plain finding each other, may be a problem.  Throw in natural calf mortality,
and populations are slow to realize gains.

Large whales represent tremendous biomass, and therefore harvest tremendous
amounts of small prey items.  They are and have been integral parts of the
ecosystem.

Effects on humans would include an emotional loss.  Many "invisible"
extinctions happen regularly.  The blue whale, like many whale species, is
highly visible and to many is an icon of the marine environment.  The world
will certainly be a lonlier and less exciting place.

Certainly increased ultraviolet exposure, changes in water temperatures that
may effect reproduction patterns of euphausiids as well as current patterns
that change population densities and locations, are dangers to krill
populations.

Let me know if you need more help.

Scott