back to article California blue whale numbers soar to historical levels, say boffins

Scientists say the California blue whale population has rebounded to near historical levels, chalking up a win for conservation. The big bellowing beasts of the ocean, which weigh in as adults at 190 tons and measure nearly 100 feet long, have done a decent job of recovering from whaling, according to a scientific study …

  1. Steve Crook

    It's a success story with an important lesson...

    Life is more resilient than we are inclined to think and that given half a chance, recovery from what appears to be a dire situation is possible.

    Not implying that we don't have to make an effort, but just that the glass is half full not half empty..

    1. Richard Parkin

      Re: It's a success story with an important lesson...

      Though the reduction in numbers may have led to a loss of genetic diversity which may not show up for years/centuries and may lead to extinction..

  2. i like crisps


    Maybe we're long overdue a cull?

    1. Charles Manning


      "Maybe we're long overdue a cull?"

      Volunteering, are you?

      The problem with this horseshit reasoning is people want sacrafices to be made... but won't make them themselves.

      Al Gore wants us all to go back to the stone age, except he needs his executive jet and power gobbling mansion because he has important work to do.

      1. Scroticus Canis


        Well Al Gore would be a good starting point with an ex-pres and ex-pm as follow ons.

        While the vast majority of the current human overpopulation is from the current and previously undeveloped parts of the planet, the plight of the whales was primarily caused by the USA and Europe a century or two ago, Japan didn't really figure back then.

        Admittedly the current Japanese and Norwegian governments intransigence on commercial whaling can only be based on hubris overriding civilised decency, they really should know better. Lobby your representatives to introduce a whaling import duty on their products, we could get lucky and change their mindsets. My boycott hasn't had much impact to date.

      2. Marcelo Rodrigues


        "The problem with this horseshit reasoning is people want sacrifices to be made... but won't make them themselves."

        Try two children, instead of four, and try walking/cycling whenever possible. Not that hard, and 30 years from now would make a huge difference.

        I already walk my last km to work (first four by ferry) - instead of getting a bus. Not much, but better than nothing. No children yet, and planning just one.

        Now, your turn.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          With a falling population you'd be better be stockpiling food because there won't be enough taxes to fund pensions if the next gen is smaller than the last.

          It isn't really people that are the problem per se, its peoples' consumption patterns. However, there's nothing like a good hard recession to jot those into place.

          Eat simple food, avoid conspicuous consumption, buy stuff which will last and don't replace it until its unusable.

          1. Martin Budden Bronze badge

            Re: TOO MANY HUMAN BEINGS? @ AC

            It's ok if the population falls only slowly so that improvements in food production can compensate for the slightly smaller next generation. We might also need to proportionally increase the pension age as life expectancy increases (depending on just how good those improvements in food production are).

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          "I already walk my last km to work (first four by ferry) - instead of getting a bus. Not much, but better than nothing. No children yet, and planning just one.

          Now, your turn."

          I work from home so don't have to use any form of transport and I'm not planning to have any children.

          Now, try not to be so selfish.

    2. Brandon 2


      That problem is solving itself. With fertility rates dropping below 2 births per woman in the UK, US, China, Japan, S. Korea (really low), and many other countries, the exponential growth predicted and portrayed in dystopian sci-fi movies, may not come to fruition. Japan, for example, could see a population decline of 30% in the next 30 years... and even more so for South Korea.


  3. Rampant Spaniel

    Humpbacks seem to be recovering here as well. There are far more these days than a decade ago but still substantially less than prior to hunting. There are still long term implications for genetic diversity but its better than extinction.

    I think its an interesting study in diplomacy, eating whale meat isn't actually very popular in Japan, much of it goes unsold. I get the feeling Japan's resolve is based mostly on the fact they refuse to be told to do anything, that perhaps they would have stopped in time if there was no public sense that they were being forced or having to give in. I am not pro whaling but I think there is some place for indigenous whaling within communities that have historically practiced it. The problem is when indigenous whaling goes from 4 blokes in a dugout with a hand held harpoon working close to shore to an armada crossing the globe. I just don't understand the mindset that thinks 'giving in' on industrial whaling would cause them to lose face but conducting an entirely BS scientific campaign that fill freezers with whale meat that they cannot convince the public to buy doesn't result in them loosing face?

    What little respect I had for them disappeared when they used money we donated for Tsunami relief to fund increased security on their Whaling trips. I cannot think of a greater show of disrespect to a world which reached out to help them in their time of need.

    1. dan1980

      @Rampant Spaniel

      "The problem is when indigenous whaling goes from 4 blokes in a dugout with a hand held harpoon working close to shore to an armada crossing the globe"

      Indeed. If indigenous whaling is to be used as justification then indigenous techniques should be used.

      But then what kind of justification is "we've done it in the past" anyway? There are a load of things humans have done in the past that are considered well beyond the pale in modern times.

      I appreciate that you can't just go around telling other sovereign nations what to do but some practices have global impact.

      1. Rampant Spaniel

        Exactly, it's balancing that against trying to justify to communities that would literally starve without it (thinking of the Inuit et al). Many societies in the past that we would consider 'undeveloped' had at least an appreciation of the impact of their impact on their environment. Some took it quite far with the Hawaiians (kanaka maoli) having a fairly advanced system of limited seasons and restocking with transgressions severely punished. Most of the societies couldn't impact whale numbers significantly even if they wanted to.

        Attitudes towards other animals have evolved, Green Sea Turtles being another example here. Whilst they had been eaten in the past it's rare (and illegal) these days and most have accepted the need to put aside the practice as it is no longer necessary and the impact was too great. Numbers have started to increase which is great. Over fishing of other species has had a huge effect though, something that wasn't a problem in the pas (pre contact)t even when sourcing all the food for nearly the same population level from here (without Costco to help). The modern attitude of racing to take everything and ^&%$ tomorrow has prevailed.

        Regulating global impacts is important but I think different countries require different approaches. We cannot (or rather we do not want to) force Japan to give up whaling. I think that the more we fight them, the harder we fight them, the more resolute they will be. On the one hand I think it is great that Seashepherd is out there actually doing something and whilst they do manage to limit the catch I think they also ensure that Japan will be back again next season no matter what the cost. If Japan were led to a position where they 'voluntarily' agreed to limit their activities to subsistence levels in their own territorial waters I think that would be a better situation for the Whales. Personally I can't understand why anyone would want to kill any of them but such is life, to some they are just meat.

        It amazes me just how many Japanese are actually against Whaling. We get a lot of Japanese tourists here in Hawai'i and from speaking to them whilst many don't view it as barbaric, they do view it as something that belongs in the past. It maintains political support because the government uses it to keep support from a subset of hardliners in the same manner as the Republicans support gun rights (i.e. blindly without any concessions because any weakening would result in revolt).

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          Exactly. As Dan1980 says, let the Japanese hunt whales from sailing ships using boats with three quarter inch planking and hand-thrown harpoons and see how many volunteer.

          Once upon a time grouse shooting involved a long walk on a rather desolate moor, possibly coming back with nothing to show for it. So it was industrialised so that city people could be Range Rovered out to a comfortable berth where a loader dealt with the business of putting in cartridges and beaters persuaded the grouse to fly in the right direction. I have not the slightest objection to snipe hunters and traditional grouse hunting, but the industrial version deserves no more than the replacement of grouse with drones equipped with small air to ground missiles, to even the odds a bit.

          If only Greenpeace could acquire a few whale shaped subs...

      2. NumptyScrub

        quote: "I appreciate that you can't just go around telling other sovereign nations what to do but some practices have global impact."

        Of course you can, what do you think we start embargoing nations for if it's not failing to do what they are bloody well told?

        If we can walk into a sovereign nation and uninstall their current government because we don't like it (invisible WMDs notwithstanding), then a show of force regarding whaling is small fry.

        1. dan1980


          Point taken, but then I was trying (and failing) to convey that one can't just go around telling other nations what to do in the same way that one doesn't just walk into Mordor.

          I.e. - yes, you can do it and sometimes you must, but it's not something that should be done without strong reasons (even if they are bad or selfish ones). The first criteria is that what that country is doing will be affecting other nations - even if it's just one particularly powerful and arrogant nation.

  4. EssEll
    IT Angle


    All very interesting and life affirming, but ----------------------------------------------------->

    1. dotdavid

      Re: Ehhh..

      IT angle?

      An uncomfortable figure above the "potential biological removal" of 3.1 whales annually allowed by the US Marine Mammal Protection Act.

      They use a computer to determine which part of the fourth whale counts as .1 and can legally be removed.

      1. Rampant Spaniel

        Re: Ehhh..

        Catch 3 and circumcise a 4th!

        I know it's an IT site but every now and again a little diversity, especially good news, can be good :)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ehhh..

      You're reading it on a computer, and "on a computer" seems to be the inventive basis of many IT-related patents.

  5. Tubz


    Anybody seen a Japanese whaler, they will no doubt be rubbing their hands at the thought of killing a harmless whale, for scientific purposes ... smell the BS !

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sushi

      I think you'll find most Japanese are less callous about taking the life of animals than a lot of westerners. When you sit down to have your cooked animal flesh do thank $deity or do you thank the animal that had it's life taken to sustain yours?

      Half the problem with the campaign to stop the Japanese whaling is that it focuses purely on blame and making the Japanese look like they are doing something wrong. Of course according to the anti-whaling people they are doing something wrong but trying to make them stop by causing them to "lose face" is only going to cause them to become further and further entrenched.

      It also looks a little bit stupid having western nations condemning Japan for whaling when we have allowed barbaric practises like halal to bloom.

  6. mark jacobs

    I'm so blue, it's making me wail!

    1. Rampant Spaniel

      Stop blubbering, this could be a fluke!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What are you so happy about ?

    Observation 1: Most people are sheepish idiots.

    Observation 2: Most people are rejoicing this story.

    Observation 3: When idiots rejoice, they want to *protect* their happiness.

    Conclusion: Blue whales are bad for free market.

  8. Stevie Silver badge


    Free in the harbour

    The blackfish are sporting again

    Free in the harbour

    Untroubled by comings and goings of men

    Who once did pursue them as oil from the sea

    Hauling away, hauling away

    Now they're Calgary roughnecks from Hermitage Bay

    Where the Whales make free in the harbour.

    Thank you Stan.

  9. spiritpen

    Director, California Ocean Outfall Group

    Blue Lies

    100% complete lies and fabrication. The US Navy wants to blow up the area in question with 260db sonar war games. These studies were based on assumptions. For instance, on Right Whales in the Atlantic Ocean. Right Whales float. Blue Whales sink. That's just the tip of the iceberg. This whole story is a lying crock, most likely to benefit the the shipping industry (who plows into a Blue Whale every 3 weeks), the Navy (who is about to engage in NWTT, Northwest Training and Testing sonar war games in the area, and are already engaged in HSTT, COMPTUEX and RIMPAC, killing whales in 70% of the world's oceans), and the oil companies, who are using air canons at 267 db to search for oil beneath the sea bottom.

    More info at GreatWhalesConservancydotorg


    Joey Racano, Director

    Ocean Outfall Group

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