There's some excellent news about the endangered blue whale, this week. Blue whales seem to be re-establishing a regular migration pattern along the west coast of the U.S., as far north as the Gulf of Alaska.
The Marine Mammal Science journal published research documenting fifteen individual blue whales identified between B.C. Canada and Alaska. These would have been regular seasonal territorial waters for the blue whale, before commercial whaling drove the species to the brink of extinction.
Blue whales weren't regularly hunted until the invention of the exploding harpoon gun, coupled with factory-ships. The commercial whaling industry hunted these mammals intensively after 1900, with some 29,000 blue whales reportedly being slaughtered for their oil in 1931. Even though 1966 marked the worldwide ban of commercial whaling for blue whales, this is the first real evidence of the species rebounding to the point of blue whales re-establishing a regular seasonal migration so far north. Of those fifteen individual whales, four of them have been positively identified in California waters, as well.
Blue whales are the largest mammal ever to inhabit our planet—and in fact they're possibly the largest animal ever. They're considerably larger and heavier than anything we've discovered so far in the fossil record. These whales tend to weigh well over 100 tons, and their bodies typically measure between 80-120 feet in length, with the females being larger than the males, on average. Blue whales have a heart larger than the average automobile.
It's cheering that these amazing beasts are still out there in spite of man's best efforts to accidentally obliterate them, and the population now appears to be beginning what will certainly be a long, slow recovery.