The devastation of whale populations by commercial whaling in the Southern Ocean is well documented, with 95 percent of the biomass of whales lost and the blue whale brought to the edge of extinction.
© Greenpeace/Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert
The 1986 moratorium on commercial whaling and the subsequent 1994 designation of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary should have stopped whaling in the Southern Ocean once and for all. But the Government of Japan has continued their hunt under the guise of so-called 'scientific' whaling, despite international opposition.
Now whale populations are facing many threats aside from the harpoon. These include climate change, ship strikes, underwater noise and expanded fishing for krill.
Although Antarctic blue whales have been officially protected since 1965 there are no signs that this species has recovered, with only around 1 percent of an estimated original population of 250,000 remaining.
The reasons for this failure to recover are unknown, but environmental factors are likely to be important.
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