Blue whales are the largest animals that live on Earth. They are spectacular both when it comes to their looks and when referring to their size. The largest blue whale is able to reach 100 to 120 feet. Only its tail is of 15 to 20 feet. Despise their unique features, blue whales are endangered animals. In fact, due to their large sizes, blue whales have managed to draw the attention of humans.
The blue whale was included on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources Red List in the year 1960. It continues to be endangered.
Why are blue whales endangered?
Blue whales have probably become endangered due to their large size, which manages to draw the attention of humans towards them. Whale hunting is believed to be the main reason why there are only few individuals from the species left. Whaling much diminished the number of whales left in the world’s bodies of water. The size of these whales made them extremely attractive to hunters.
For long time mariners have actually believed that blue whales, being very big animals, could represent a deadly threat in the sea. However, this period known as early whaling did not cause the species to be endangered, as the limited known techniques to capture these animals made the damage produced to blue whale population controllable.
Starting with the 1930s, things changed. Powerful weapons started to be used, an impressive number of whales being hunted each year. Only in 1931 29,649 whales were killed. As numbers increased over the years, the species easily became endangered.
2. Natural causes
However, hunting may be the most important factor leading to this situation, but it is not the only one. Blue whales have a very slow rate of reproduction. A female blue whale can only give birth once at every two years, and to a single calf.
Blue whales usually live in cold environments, so they can easily be injured by ice. Even though blue whales shock with their impressive dimensions, they can simply become victims of other inhabitants of the ocean. Blue whales can be hunted by killer whales.
3. Fishing equipment
Fishing equipment may also cause many whale deaths. Blue whales can easily entangle in fishing gear. As they can get seriously injured, fishing equipment is believed to be one of the main causes which has lead to the death of many blue whales.
A protected species
Having all these facts under consideration, in 1966 the International Whaling Commission declared blue whales a protected species. Since that moment hunting blue whales was banned.
Despite the measures taken to increase the number of blue whales existent in sea waters, this population is still endangered. Heavy sea traffic, sea accidents and other man’s sea activities cause injuries and deaths within the blue whale population every year. Statistics actually show that only 12,000 to 15,000 blue whales still exist in world’s waters nowadays.