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Majestic fin whales

Icelandic whalers kill first fin whales in four years

As feared, whale hunters in Iceland have killed at least two fin whales, the first...
hvalur-8-whaling-vessel

Majority of Icelandic people think whaling harms their country’s reputation

A survey of Icelandic people has confirmed that the majority believe whaling damages Iceland's reputation. ...
A magnificent sei whale © Christopher Swann

Japan Begins Commercial Whaling Season

Sei whale © Christopher Swann Japanese whalers have left port to begin this year's annual...

Pumps and conveyor belts. How could more whales help save us?

University of Alaska Fairbanks Master's student, Dana Bloch, retrieves a CTD that is used to...

Blue whales in New Zealand found to be genetically distinct

Blue whales have long been known to frequent the waters around New Zealand but now scientists have discovered that the whales living between the North and South islands appear to be a genetically distinct population. 

A survey in 2014 by a team from the Marine Mammal Institute at Oregon State University identified around 50 blue whales in the South Taranaki Bight but it was unclear if these whales were just seasonal visitors or might be there on a more permanent basis.

Over the next few years, the team revisited the area and built up a picture of blue whale activity in the area. Using hydrophones they heard blue whale sounds almost every recording day in 2016 in the Bight. They were able to identify that the sounds were only made by these whales and none from other blue whale populations known to inhabit waters in the Southern Hemisphere. Further investigation enabled them to discover that the whales, which grow to around 22m, are also genetically distinct. The researchers currently estimate that there are around 718 whales living here but further research is needed to obtain a more accurate population figure.

Working with local authorities, there is also a need to draw up conservation plans as the waters in this part of New Zealand are used for industrial activities such as oil and gas exploration and extraction.

Barlow DR, Torres LG, Hodge KB, Steel D and others (2018)
Documentation of a New Zealand blue whale population based on multiple lines of evidence. Endang Species Res 36:27-40.
https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00891