HOW ANTARCTIC FIN WHALE CAME BACK FROM EXTINCTION?

Often, within the pages of wildlife conservation stories lies that one spark, idea, or action that spawns dramatic positive changes. Here's one such story on how one decision has resulted in a huge impact, practically bringing back a key species from the brink of extinction.

The recent filming of southern fin whales in Antarctic waters thrilled scientists, researchers, and conservationsists  no end.  And, why not? It's a deeply encouraging sign that not only have these marine mammals returned to their historic feeding grounds but their numbers have increased too, albeit gradually. The species was earlier reduced to less than 2% of its original population, thanks to the usual suspect-unsustainable hunting for decades. And then came the whaling ban towards the last quarter of the 20th Century, positively impacting the course of the animal's fate over decades. Slowly but surely fin whales have rebounded; slowly because fin whales give birth to only one calf at a time.

Over the last few years, researchers have recorded a hundred groups of these whales, including large ones comprising up to 150 animals. "Using data from their surveys, the authors estimate that there could be almost 8,000 fin whales in the Antarctic area." Listed as "vulnerable" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, fin whales have a tremendous impact on the environment. In fact, they are called "ecosystem engineers" because after consuming iron-rich krill, they excrete nutrients that help the "growth of tiny phytoplankton, the foundation of the marine food web". In addition, the increasing number of this marine mammal - the world's second largest animal-is also an indicator of the ocean's good health.

While other threats cannot be ruled out for these ocean giants, the "increasing numbers of southern fin whales is an encouraging sign that conservation measures can work".

Picture Credit : Google 

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