Recent data gathered by researchers show that the population of California Blue Whales is now in a healthy state with an estimate number of around 2,200 residing in the eastern side of the Pacific Ocean. This number reflects that it is around the 97% rate of its historical levels. This rate shows that the population has reached the capacity of what the ocean system can support.
The California blue whales are considered as one of the largest animals on the planet. It is estimated that an average California blue whale has 33m in length and weighs around 190 tons. This animal is often found close to the cost of the state, but it can travel all the way to the Gulf of Alaska to Costa Rica. Before banning the practice of whaling, most countries that were active with this kind of activity were focused in hunting whales on the colder waters of Antarctic. It was estimated that at least 346,000 whales were killed in this area while the number of whales killed in the Pacific was estimated at around 3.400 (1905-1971). The ban against whaling was formally implemented in 1966.
In order to get the accurate data regarding the population of California blue whale, the researchers focused on the song that each whale sings. There are two major division of this animal and it is divided between the California area and the Japanese/Russia area. Dr. Trevor Branch, a member of the research team from University of Washington further explained their data-gathering procedure stating that “We were trying to separate the catches into east and west, but we didn’t know the boundary between the two. We used the current locations of where they sing to figure out the dividing line. Their repetitive calls are different.”
Despite the growing numbers, this creature of the sea is still facing some major threats – one of which is being struck by ships. Research data shows that there will be an 11-fold increase in ships thus implying that the incident of injuring or killing a California blue whale would also increase. This would mean a 50% drop from its current population. In an effort to address this problem, authorities are now suggesting to pay merchant shipping to slow down. Dr. Branch further explained this solution describing that their “main perspective is that we’d rather there were no ship strikes at all, and they are over the legal limit.”