The largest living creature is the Antarctic blue whale which may grow to be 98 feet in length and weigh up to 400,000 pounds (about 33 elephants). In its prime feeding season, the whale eats around 7936 pounds of krill every day to fuel its tiny car-sized heart.
Its cries reach 188 decibels, which is louder than a jet engine making it the loudest mammal on the planet. Blue whales have a low-frequency whistle that may be heard for hundreds of kilometers.
The blue whale surfaces in the Gulf of Corcovado, South America, right in front of a WWF research team.
A blue whale breaches the water in the Gulf of Corcovado, South America, in front of a WWF research team.
The commercial whaling industry began in the southern Atlantic Ocean in 1904, substantially reducing the Antarctic blue whale population. Illegal whaling persisted until 1972 despite International Whaling Commission protections enacted in the 1960s. With a population of just a few thousand in 2018, the IUCN Red List now considers this species to be "critically endangered," down from 125,000 in 1926.
Upon returning from their recent voyage to the sub-Antarctic island of South Georgia, the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) led scientific team was able to report some encouraging findings. On their "historic" Antarctic blue whale counting trip in 2020, they tallied 55 of the creatures. Even now, the South Georgia Lakes serve as a critical summertime feeding site.
"After three years of surveys, we are pleased to see so many whales coming South Georgia to eat again, both whaling and sealing were practiced widely in this area. Humpback whale populations have recovered to levels observed a century ago, before whaling started in South Georgia, proving that protections put in place to prevent whaling were effective." Dr. Jennifer Jackson, a whale biologist at BAS, said.
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has collaborated with the Southern Ocean Commission (CCAMLR) for a long time in order to save the most important habitats for iconic species including whales, penguins, seals, seabirds, and their small Antarctic krill food. As part of its mission to conserve biodiversity in the Southern Ocean from the effects of climate change, CCAMLR has pledged to establish a network of marine protected areas around Antarctica. These areas will be especially important for whales, who rely on the krill found there for food. In order to assist governments conserve these vital foraging regions, WWF collaborates with scientists to supply them with valuable information.
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