BLUE WHALE

Scuba Diver Australasia + Ocean Planet - - Inspirational Images Of 25 Ocean Species Under Thr - Text & Pho­tos by Wayne Jones

See­ing the blue whale truly is a hum­bling ex­pe­ri­ence. Even if these are the slightly smaller pygmy blue whales (Balaenoptera

mus­cu­lus bre­vi­cauda), their im­mense size still over­whelms you to your core. These awe-in­spir­ing and most ma­jes­tic of Earth’s be­ings once num­bered in the hun­dreds of thou­sands and were found in all the oceans, but they have been on the en­dan­gered species list since the end of in­dus­tri­alised whal­ing in the 1970s. With only an es­ti­mated 15–25,000 around the world, the per­va­sive­ness of “ghost” net en­tan­gle­ments, ship pro­peller strikes and plas­tic-filled oceans means that their re­cov­ery and fu­ture still hangs in the bal­ance. Their im­pact on the en­vi­ron­ment is only now be­ing re­alised and the sig­nif­i­cant role baleen whales play in the main­te­nance of the Earth’s bio­sphere is only now be­ing felt, in part, as “cli­mate change”. The whales’ cyclic feed­ing on krill and fer­til­is­ing of phy­to­plank­ton is an es­sen­tial cog in Earth’s cli­mate bal­ance forged over mil­len­nia and this bal­ance has been de­stroyed in a few short decades of in­dus­tri­alised whal­ing. Thus, the need to end all whal­ing in this un­fold­ing global cli­mate catas­tro­phe has never been more war­ranted.

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