A 2018 scientific expedition off the coast of Antarctica led to surprising results. 100 groups of fin whales have been sighted, consisting of about four specimens per group, but in a precise and limited range of the Antaric Ocean the researchers found two groups of whales consisting of 70 specimens.
In 2019, scientists spotted 150 fin whales in a single group, always in the same portion of the Southern Ocean. The fin whale is classified as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, but this resounding discovery may lead to new developments on the species' nebulous future.
Whaling in this area of the planet was banned in 1976, before the international moratorium on commercial whaling, which applies to all large cetaceans. Since the first decade of the 20th century, more frequent sightings of fin whales have begun near the Antarctic Peninsula, the northernmost tip of Antarctica.
Expeditions by the team of biologists of Helena Herr from the University of Hamburg and Bettina Meyer from the Alfred Wegener Institute in Bremerhaven have led to these incredible results.
Antarctica: 150 whales feeding together filmed in a beautiful video
The researchers said: "The large groups sighted, consisting of about 150 animals, are unique in our time: they were last described in the early 1900s, when whaling in Antarctica began.
Although we do not know the total number of fin whales in Antarctica, due to the lack of synchronous observations, could be a good sign that the population of these fin whales in Antarctica is recovering, almost fifty years after the ban on commercial whaling.
they benefit from a higher supply of nutrients absorb a lot of carbon dioxide, which makes an important contribution to the breakdown of carbon in the atmosphere." WWF whale expert Heike Zidowitz explained: "The study confirms the positive and continuing trend of the recovery of the fin whale population in Antarctica.
Increasing commercial fishing for krill, particularly around the Antarctic Peninsula, carries the risk of accidental catching with whales. networks and reduces the availability of food." Fin whales, which can weigh up to 70 tons, feed mainly on krill and small schools of fish.
According to the researchers, they were on the verge of extinction due to indiscriminate hunting in the Southern Hemisphere.