Blue Whales Return to Spain’s Coast After Disappearing for 40 Years

By | The Mind Unreleased

Blue whales have been returning to the Atlantic coast of Spain after an absence of over 40 years in the region when whaling industries drove the species to the brink of extinction.

Blue whales, which are the world’s largest mammals, had long disappeared from the region until the recent sightings.

The first was spotted off the coast of Galicia near Ons Island by marine biologist Bruno Díaz, who heads the Bottlenose Dolphin Research.

Another one of the majestic creatures was spotted the following year in 2018 and yet another in 2019. In 2020, two whales again made their return to the area.

It remains unclear as of yet as to why the creatures have returned to the area, but controls on local whaling industries are believed to play a role.

I believe the moratorium on whaling has been a key factor,” Díaz remarked, according to the Guardian. “In the 1970s, just before the ban was introduced, an entire generation of blue whales disappeared. Now, more than 40 years later, we’re seeing the return of the descendants of the few that survived.”

Whaling had been a traditional industry in Galicia for hundreds of years before Spain finally acted to ban whaling in 1986, long after the blue whale’s presence in the region had faded away.

I’m pessimistic because there’s a high possibility that climate change is having a major impact on the blue whale’s habitat,” said marine biologist Alfredo López in comments to La Voz de Galicia.

“Firstly, because they never venture south of the equator, and if global warming pushes this line north, their habitat will be reduced,” he continued “And secondly, if it means the food they normally eat is disappearing, then what we’re seeing is dramatic and not something to celebrate.”

Díaz said that while the data certainly supports this theory, it is too early to determine climate as the precise cause.

“It is true that the data we have pointed to this trend [climate change] but it is not enough yet,” he told Público news.

Another possibility is that the ancestral memory of the old creatures or even a longing for their home may offer an explanation, according to Díaz.

In recent years it’s been discovered that the blue whale’s migration is driven by memory, not by environmental conditions,” he said. “This year there hasn’t been a notable increase in plankton, but here they are. Experiences are retained in the collective memory and drive the species to return.”

In recent years, researchers have found that migratory patterns are also driven by the cultural knowledge existing in many groups of species.

Researchers believe this type of folk memory, or cultural knowledge, exists in many species and is key to their survival.

A typical blue whale is 20-24 meters long and weighs 120 tonnes – equivalent to 16 elephants – but specimens of up to 30 meters and 170 tonnes have been found.

Critically Endangered Blue Whales Make “Unprecedented” Comeback Off Antarctica Coast

By Elias Marat | Creative Commons | TheMindUnleashed.com

(TMU— Decades after the virtual collapse of the blue whale population, the largest animal on Earth has made a stunning comeback, proving that the efforts of conservationists to protect the massive animal have paid off.

Scientists with the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) have recently reported that after three years of expeditions to South Georgia Island, which lies off the coast of Antarctica, an “unprecedented” number of whales has been sighted—signaling a major comeback for the once-critically endangered Antarctic Blue Whale.

According to the BAS, there have been 36 separate sightings of the massive creature in the area this year alone, meaning that a total of 55 blue whales have been sighted in the area. The amount of sightings is a huge leap from 2018 when there were only 1 sighting and some acoustic confirmations of the blue whale’s presence.

In a statement, the research team said:

“For such a rare species, this is an unprecedented number of sightings and suggests that South Georgia waters remain an important summer feeding ground for this rare and poorly known species.”

The news comes as a strong vindication of conservationists’ work preserving the creature after the sub-Antarctic summer feeding ground for blue whales, humpback whales, fin whales, and southern right whales was transformed in the early 20th century into a killing field by the whaling industry. In only sixty years of the whaling industry’s presence on the island, over 176,000 whales were slaughtered, threatening to turn the source of life for the species into a watery graveyard.

However, following an international moratorium on whaling by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in 1986, the blue whale has bounced back after its population was reduced by a monstrous 97 percent.

Whale ecologist and project leader Dr. Jennifer Jackson said:

“After three years of surveys, we are thrilled to see so many whales visiting South Georgia to feed again. This is a place where both whaling and sealing were carried out extensively.

It is clear that protection from whaling has worked, with humpback whales now seen at densities similar to those a century earlier, when whaling first began at South Georgia.”

Researchers and marine biologists have greeted the news enthusiastically, noting that the number of whales signals a return to the pre-whaling norm.

Dr. Trevor Branch of the University of Washington told BBC:

“[It’s] truly, truly amazing.

To think that in a period of 40 or 50 years, I only had records for two sightings of blue whales around South Georgia. Since 2007, there have been maybe a couple more isolated sightings. So to go from basically nothing to 55 in one year is astonishing.”

The bounce-back of the blue whale population is not only great news for the species but also for the environment. According to economist Dr. Ralph Chiami and whale biologist Michael Fishbach, who recently gave a presentation to the World Economic Forum, the life of each whale is worth about $2 million due to their contribution to the fight against carbon emissions. This is mainly thanks to the tremendous amount of feces the whales produce, which in turn feeds iron to the phytoplankton population, allowing the marine algae to proliferate and capture carbon while providing oxygen to the planet.

By Elias Marat | Creative Commons | TheMindUnleashed.com