Top News

Sperm whales are a refugee species. Are we protecting them in the wrong places?

A study revealed that sperm whales were driven out to sea by whaling

[24 Febbraio 2023]

Until now, scientists believe that to protect sperm whales (Brain visitorIt was necessary to protect areas in the far open ocean and this belief is the basis of “The ultimate sperm whale recovery planIt was published in 2010 by the Office of Protected Resources of the National Marine Fisheries Service of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the United States of America defining the population of sperm whales as “generally offshore”. Stady “Crowdsourcing of recent and historical data identifies a sperm whale (Brain visitorMarine Habitat of South Western Australia”, published in 2016 on Frontiers in Marine Sciences By a team of researchers from Murdoch University, 2Ocean Alliance and WWF Australia describes sperm whales as cetaceans that feed “in the deep marine regions of the world’s oceans”. A belief that goes back a long time: in Moby Dick Published in 1851, the Pequod whaler chases sperm whales far from shore, sailing for days from the nearest port.

But this does not mean sperm whales They want It is limited to the open ocean. Baby whales pulled 200 years ago from the fringes of whaling records have helped scientists understand the lasting impact of historic whaling on the sperm whales that now live offshore in the Indian Ocean. Stady Environmental information content in whaling archives contrasts with recent cetacean surveys to plan conservation and identify historical distribution changes. Biology protection An international team of researchers led by Tom B Letissiere of the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and the University of Western Australia, examined records from the heyday of Yankee whaling — 1792 through 1912 — and found that “sperm whales used to frequent areas close to the coast.” Although sperm whales need deep waters to search for food, they are abandoned near the coast because it is the first place humans hunted them.

See also  The COVID relief bill was sent to Florida, where Trump went to play golf

By analyzing whaling records, the study reveals how these gentle giants – once found in this region mostly along the coasts of East Africa, Madagascar and Arabia – now appear more commonly in deep ocean basins and near outlying oceanic islands such as the Chagos Archipelago.” This has led scientists to question the long-term consequences of commercial whaling from the 18th to early 20th centuries, when sperm whales were hunted for their blubber, oil and sperm, with important implications for the protection of whaling.

To understand the changes that have occurred in the distribution of sperm whales in the western Indian Ocean, the British and Australian research team compared data from North American whaling records operating between 1792 and 1912, each page decorated with miniature representations of daily catches, with recent scientific investigations conducted. Since 1995, it has been shown that “sperm whales exhibit characteristics of a ‘refugee species’: animals and plants that have been driven from their preferred habitat—usually by human activity—and are now confined to areas where it is difficult for them to survive.”

It’s unusual, Letissiere notes, to consider that the prevalence of the sperm whale, the world’s largest toothed animal, could have been shaped by the specter of human hunting many generations ago. Sperm whales are highly intelligent, social animals, known to adapt their behavior to protect themselves and their family members from threats. While the increased opportunity for hunting would have directly reduced whale populations in coastal habitats, the ancestors of today’s sperm whales may have learned to avoid these areas and instead took refuge in open waters, where they still are today, despite the increasing challenges of doing so. He. She”.

See also  The largest crocodile ever lived in Australia

Sperm whales live in seas all over the world — including the Mediterranean Sea — and have a large sac of waxy oil — spermaceti — in their heads, which is thought to aid them in buoyancy and echolocation when hunting squid in deep, dark waters. In addition to the demand for tallow as a fuel for lamps, this oil has become highly sought after for its suitability for making candles, soaps, machine lubricants, and perfumes, making it a coveted target for whalers who have reduced their global population by more than two-thirds in less than 300 years. Moby Dick, the white whale, was actually a sperm whale.

Letissier adds, “Although commercial hunting of sperm whales has ceased and this species is now protected by various laws and treaties, they are still vulnerable to human factors such as entanglement in fishing nets, pollution and collisions with boats.”

Study co-author Samuel Turvey of the ZSL Institute of Zoology notes, “It is critical to address any current threats that are driving a species toward extinction, but we also need to recognize that some species now live only at the edges of their ideal habitat. In the case of the sperm whale Understanding not only where a species is today, but also where it once thrived, is key to effective science-led conservation planning and action to protect this amazing species.Our study shows the power of using historical documents to uncover important information for modern conservation that would have been lost in the past. It is essential that scientists, when trying to understand how human activity affects the natural world and what we can do to restore it, continue to use unexpected sources of information, such as environmental archives.

See also  The UK is simplifying the rules for liquids carried on board aircraft

Species protection is central to ZSL’s mission and purpose, and this important new scientific research will contribute to the long-term protection of sperm whales. It is part of a larger project funded by the Bertarelli Foundation, dedicated to studying cetacean species and their abundance using hydrophones and optical surveys in the Chagos Archipelago. The team led by Letissiere and his colleagues will include local experts in the Indian Ocean and hopes to gather more data to understand the distribution of sperm whales and other species to figure out how best to protect them.

Earl Warner

"Devoted bacon guru. Award-winning explorer. Internet junkie. Web lover."

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button