Increase in California blue whale numbers

Posted Sep 6, 2014 by Tim Sandle
Biologists have calculated that the numbers of California blue whales has risen. This means that the population is returning to sustainable levels.
Handout image received on February 16  2011  by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society shows the icon...
Handout image received on February 16, 2011, by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society shows the iconic black and white tail of the endangered humpback whale in the Southern Ocean
Barbara Veiga, Sea Shepherd Conservation Societ/AFP/File
The blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) is a marine mammal belonging to the family of baleen whales (Mysticeti). The whale is the largest existing animal. Blue whales are found around the world and for years numbers have been in decline, mainly due to the threats from illegal whaling. In the U.S., the National Marine Fisheries Service lists the whales as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.
After years of decline, some positive news has been reported in relation to the California blue whale. Biologists have assessed that this is the only population of blue whales around the world to have rebounded from the ravages of whaling, according to The Washington Post. This population of whales lives in North Pacific (and is most often spotted in California, where the whales migrate to during the summer).
The new estimate puts the numbers of California blue whales at around 2,200. Whilst this is a significant number, it remains below the numbers seen during the 1960s (a time point before an international whaling ban was introduced for the whales).
The person responsible for the new whale count, University of Washington doctoral student Cole Monnahan, is quoted as saying in a research note: "It's a conservation success story." The study has been reported to the journal Marine Mammal Science ("Do ship strikes threaten the recovery of endangered eastern North Pacific blue whales?2).
There is only one point of concern: the numbers of blue whales off the U.S. coast that are struck each year by ships remains high. Discovery Magazine indicates that there are likely at least 11 blue whales struck a year along the U.S. West Coast.