The Blue Whale:Endangered Species By: Mia Johnson

Common Name: Blue Whale

Scientific name: Balaenoptera musculus (mouse-like finned whale)

the blue whale was listed in 1970 as endangered under the Endangered Species Conservation Act, the predecessor to the Endangered Species Act (ESA). When the ESA was passed in 1973, the blue whale was listed as endangered throughout its range. It is also listed as depleted under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

The Blue Whale is a cosmopolitan species, found in all oceans except the Arctic, but absent from some regional seas such as the Mediterranean, Okhotsk and Bering seas.They are most abundant in the southern Indian Ocean on the Madagascar plateau, and off South Australia and Western Australia, where they form part of a more or less continuous distribution from Tasmania to Indonesia. Blue whales are found year round in the northern and equatorial Indian Ocean, especially around Sri Lanka, and the Maldives, and at least seasonally near the Seychelles and in the Gulf of Aden.

The threats to blue whales: The main threat in the past was direct exploitation, which only became possiblle using "deck-mounted harpoon cannons." Blue whale hunting started in the North Atlantic in 1868 and spread to other regions around 1900 after the northeastern Atlantic populations being severely reduced. Small populations such as the surviving Antarctic population can have a number of interacting effects that accelerate overall risk. demographic stochasticity, which is amiability of population growth rates rising from random events such as birth rates and death rates,inbreeding depression, which is the reduced biological fitness in a given population as a result of inbreeding, and density dispensation, which is the correlation between population size and its density.

The global population of blue whales is uncertain, but based on the current population in all the oceans, the total for the species is allegedly in the range of 10,000-25,000, corresponding to about 3-11% of the 1911 population size. In the North Atlantic there are about 400 whales that have been photo-identified in the Gulf of St Lawrence and an estimate of 1,000-2,000 in the central North Atlantic. In the Antarctic about 341,830 blue whales have been recorded caught in the Antarctic and sub-Antarctic in the 20th century, of which 12,618 were identified as pygmy blue whales or are assumed to have been so from their location in the Antarctic. In the Eastern North Pacific, the population estimates are 3,000 for the area off California and Baja California. In the Eastern South Pacific 1,400 whales span the equator and run from late July through early December are from the South Pacific.

The population of blue whales are Endangered meaning they are Increasing. Scientists say the blue whale's ability to communicate with potential mates over large distances have helped stocks recover from a decreasing population due to hunters to an increasing population.
Habitat & Ecology: feed almost exclusively on euphausiids (krill), with a variety of species being taken by different blue whale populations, such as the Euphausia superba in the Antarctic, Nyctiphanes australis off of southern Australia, Euphausia recurva off Western Australia, and Nyctiphanes simplex off the Galápagos. They also feed both at the surface and also at depth, following the constant steep migrations of their prey to at least 100 m. Some populations of blue whales appear to be tenant year-round in habitats of year-round high productivity and other populations of blue whales try long migrations to high-latitude feeding grounds.

Systems and movement patterns: Marine

Blue whales effect the overall ecosystem and biodiversity in their habitat by helping to regulate the flow of food to maintain a stable food chain and ensuring that certain animal species do not overpopulate the ocean. A blue whale can consume as much as 40 million krill per day, which stabilizes the aquatic ecosystem if the blue whale species were to become extinct. Even whale poop plays a large role in the environment by helping to offset carbon in the atmosphere.

Conservation actions:

The IWC granted protection to blue whales by 1966. The blue whale catch limits for all commercial whaling have been set at zero by the IWC since 1986. The WWF direct towards increasing awareness of the need for blue whale conservation at the national and regional levels, and to create opportunities for local communities to be involved in, and to profit from, cetacean conservation initiatives. The WWF works to make the IWC (International Whaling Commission) more effective in reducing all these threats to whales.
WWF working with the IWC

Sources:

Reilly, S.B., Bannister, J.L., Best, P.B., Brown, M., Brownell Jr., R.L., Butterworth, D.S., Clapham, P.J., Cooke, J., Donovan, G.P., Urbán, J. & Zerbini, A.N. 2008. http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/summary/2477/0

Dfg.webmaster@alaska.gov. "Blue Whale: Federally Endangered Listing Information, Alaska Department of Fish and Game." Blue Whale: Federally Endangered Listing Information,. Webmaster, n.d. Web. 07 Jan. 2017. http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=specialstatus.fedsummary&species=bluewhale

"Blue Whale." WWF. World Wildlife Fund, 2016. Web. 07 Jan. 2017. http://wwf.panda.org/what_we_do/endangered_species/cetaceans/about/blue_whale/

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