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Almost Extinct Whales Rally

By: Emily Li

On July 7th, 150 fin whales in the Southern Ocean were seen leaping on the ocean’s surface. Fin whales are considered endangered species due to habitat loss and commercial whaling, both primarily caused by humans. They are now coming back to their homeland.

Fin whales are the second biggest animal in the world. The remaining population of the fin whales is estimated to be 100,000. With that, spotting one is pretty rare. In 2013, Dr. Herr, a biologist at University of Hamburg, and teammates were studying minke whales when they spotted fin whales upon “coincidence.” Researchers found 100 groups of fin whales, and recorded eight categories of 150 whales in total. When asked how it felt to have seen a fin whale back in their historic environment, Herr, praises it’s “one of nature’s greatest events.”

The fin whales are lucky to have recovered because of the 1976 whaling ban. From the late 1800s to early 1900s, the population of fin whales greatly dropped due to commercial whaling. Commercial whaling is when whales are hunted to sell and trade. The 1976 whaling ban was put in place due to the rapid decrease of whales. Although the fin whale is still endangered, in some areas it has made significant progress recently in its quantity.

This is one of the few times whale gatherings were this colossal. In 1982, whales were spotted in Antarctica stretching “from horizon to horizon.” The sudden boomerang of fin whales could be a good thing for climate change. Whales consume krill but also give back nutrients to the sea, which causes phytoplankton, the foundation of the marine food chain, to grow. They seize around 33 tons of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere which helps decrease climate change. A decrease in the whale population can mean a shift in their habitat. As whales are at the top of the marine food chain, all ocean life depends on it for a healthy environment.

“There’s much more cooperation and symbiosis than we usually give the ecosystem credit for,” Santora, a doctor, concludes.





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