Southern right whale study quantifies impact of whaling in New Zealand’s waters

From ABC News in Science, 16 March 2016:

The population of southern right whales in the waters off New Zealand is just 12 per cent of its size before whaling began, according to a new study.

The research, published in Royal Society Open Science, highlighted the slow path to recovery from whaling in this area, said the study’s lead author, Jennifer Jackson from the British Antarctic Survey.

“It’s really easy for us to forget how different our oceans looked before we went in and exploited them,” Dr Jackson said.

“There are anecdotes that people in Wellington would complain about the noises that the southern right whales were making in the harbour at night.”

In the 19th and 20th centuries, southern right whales (Eubalaena australis) were massacred by whalers in their coastal calving grounds around the New Zealand mainland and while foraging in the waters around New Zealand and south-eastern Australia.

Even after the southern right whale was protected in 1935, secret and illegal Russian whaling in the 1960s took the surviving populations in New Zealand waters to the brink of extinction. Read more.

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