Jan 19, 2022
Conor Ryan, a self-described “whale nerd,” could not believe his eyes as he floated around last week in a boat near the Antarctic Peninsula. Before him lay a glorious sight: roughly 1,000 fin whales swimming in the deep blue sea waters.
As Ryan knew, to witness just one fin whale is amazing, but upward of 1,000? “Mind completely blown,” the scientists tweeted from aboard his boat.
The whale sighting blew Ryan’s mind. Fin whales had been near extinction over the last 100 years due to whaling, or humans hunting whales. A grouping of fin whales that size thriving in the ocean waters is nothing but good news for the future of the species. “It’s like humans never happened,” author Philip Hoare wrote in The Guardian. He was referring to the whaling industry that has killed millions of whales over the years.
Ryan said about four large krill fishing vessels roamed the waters near the South Orkney Islands. They likely drew the fin whales to feed on the tiny shrimp-like fish.
Fin whales are slender but sizable. They usually grow to nearly 90 feet long. In whale circles, that’s second in size behind blue whales. Those whales average about 108 feet long. Fin whales can live up to 140 years. Their populations neared extinction, especially during the peak of the whaling industry in the 19th century.
Photo by Dr. Haus courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Why Are Whales in Trouble — Again?
In this scientific paper, students learn why whales are important to ocean ecosystems and how researchers used physical and observational data to determine the connections between climate change and changes in the North Atlantic Right Whale population over time.
Sea Change: How Melting Ice Is Disrupting the World's Oceans
This interactive news article tells the story of endangered right whales and their prolonged migration journey to find food as climate change causes shifts in Atlantic Ocean currents.
"Weight of the World"
This environmental mural by Abi Mustapha portrays a whale with an oil refinery on its back, highlighting the ways in which our actions on land impact the oceans and everything that lives there.