Bowhead Whale Population Rebound Being Hailed as One of the Great Conservation Successes of the Century

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Bowhead whale populations have rebounded and it’s being hailed by biologists as one of the great conservation successes of the last century.

The bowhead whale is a species of the baleen whale … and it’s one of the few whales that reside exclusively in Arctic waters year-round. It gets its name from its massive triangular skull, which can be used to break through Arctic ice.

Sadly, they were once on the brink of being wiped off the face of the earth. Commercial whaling for bowhead whales went on from the 1700s to the early 1900s due to their highly-valued oil, blubber, and whalebone. Because of their massive bodies and slow swimming speeds, they were prime targets for whalers.

Commercial whaling stopped in 1921, giving the whales the chance to recover. A large part of their recovery happened because of the natural inaccessibility of their ice-covered homes that shielded them from threats.

Credit also has to be given to the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission (AEWC) that has fought against dangers to the species, such as offshore oil drilling.

The bowhead whales’ population rebound has been accelerated in recent decades, surprising scientists. It was expected for them to suffer due to melting sea ice … but less ice has actually shown a positive effect, leading to an increase in bowhead whale foods like krill and copepods. The increased food resulted in fatter whales and more babies, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa).

Thankfully, the bowhead whales have shown a lot of resilience and there’s hope now that they are nearing pre-commercial whaling numbers!

At Karmagawa and SaveTheReef, we love stories like this. It shows the power of nature to recover as long as we give it a chance by not killing animals and not destroying the environment.

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What do you think about the rebound of the bowhead whale population? Leave a comment below.

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