Good news! According to a study published in the journal Marine Mammal Science, the endangered California blue whale population has probably returned to near pre-whaling levels. Bad news: They’re the first set of blue whales to do so, and we still keep hitting them with ships.
We know that the blue whale population in the North Pacific (most often spotted in California, as the whales migrate there during the summer) has now reached about 2,200, the largest known on earth. Researchers show that the current population is actually at 97 percent of the historical one.
If California has always had a relatively small blue whale population, it explains why the area’s population growth has slowed in recent years: It may be almost back to normal. The researchers believe that our nasty habit of running into whales with our ships (at least 11 were struck along the west coast last year) isn’t actually a major concern. They believe that the population can maintain its stability regardless.
By Rachel Feltman, September 5