Researchers from the University of Washington used whale songs to estimate the current population in the Eastern Pacific — one of two Pacific populations — at 2,200 individuals. But the Antarctic population remains at roughly one percent of historic levels.
While the news was welcomed by the authors, they warn that an increase in ship traffic could present a risk to California blue whales, although a much lower one than commercial whaling, which claimed nearly 350,000 blue whales in the Pacific before 1971.
The authors suggest that slowing ship speed limits in sensitive areas could help ensure California blue whales continue their recovery.
CITATION: Cole C. Monnahan, Trevor A. Branch and André E. Punt. Do ship strikes threaten the recovery of endangered eastern North Pacific blue whales?. Marine Mammal Science. Article first published online: 5 SEP 2014 DOI: 10.1111/mms.12157