Whale of a Tale

So everyone knows that mankind hunted whales nearly to the brink of extinction, etc., etc. So what has happened since whaling was finally discontinued, which didn’t happen until as late as 1971 for some species such as the blue whale?

Nature magazine reported last Friday:

Blue whales along the US west coast seem to have recovered from decades of hunting, surprising researchers and regulators who had listed them as threatened. . . In a surprising finding published today in Marine Mammal Science, a team at the University of Washington in Seattle suggests that the current eastern North Pacific population of around 2,200 blue whales is probably at 97% of the size the ecosystem can actually support.

The article goes on to say that the popular theory that blue (and other) whales were suffering from collisions with ships needs to be rethought:

All this research raises questions over whether measures to move shipping lanes and to control vessel speeds are justified.

Constricting shipping is not about the whales, of course, but you already knew that.

Meanwhile, Pacific gray whales are at record numbers, according to NOAA. Certainly I’ve never seen as many whales right out my window as I have the last two months. At any given moment (if there’s no fog), I can usually spot a whale or two within five minutes off my back deck or out my office window—either gray whales or humpbacks. I’ve shared a couple of whale highlight reels before, and here’s another short one from just last week:

The best news here is that Kirk and Spock won’t have to travel back in time to 1980s-era San Francisco in a futile bid to put the Village People out of business.


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