As ironic as it may seem whales are on the decline and were labelled an endangered species despite not having a natural predator. They may not have a predator in a natural sense, but they do have one from man himself. Sadly, the slump is as a result of destructive activities, such as sports fishing, the devastation of their natural habitat and pollution. Thankfully, conservation endeavours are in place to aid in raising their numbers.
Why It Matters
Whales take seven to ten years to reach sexual maturity. Consequently, their population can’t rise as quickly as we would desire. With this in mind, measures must be put in place to ensure whale numbers don’t plummet any further and the World Wildlife Foundation leads in these efforts. The WWF is keen on sensitizing people to get a clearer picture of the frightening situation. For instance, the military is said to be engaged with the WWF because some of their activities during sonar bore complications for whales and they want to fix the issue. The International Whaling Commission, in cooperation with the WWF drew up laws with an aim to regulate whale hunting.
Illegal whale hunting by far is the most significant threat facing whales at the moment. Various parties are in support of the enactment of hefty fines for those who violate the anti-whale hunting laws. The rationale behind the anti-whale hunting laws is that once people realize the possibility of incurring huge penalties or even facing jail time most will refrain from whale hunting. The rules will also curb the highly unregulated whale meat trade. Persons who rely on whale meat will look for other food alternatives.
Pollution poses a menace to whale populations. Chemical contamination, combined with garbage and oil spills pose a threat to efforts geared towards recovering whale populations. Construction of dams, bridges and other waterways affect whale pods moving in the deep waters resulting in the separation of whales.
Private and Commercial Boating
Occasionally, incidences of whales and dolphins being struck by boats are reported. As congestion of vessels soars in the ocean and rivers, the possibility of such accidents increases.
When fishing impacts on the sustainability of a specific population of any aquatic animal, overfishing is deemed to have taken place. Overfishing at times leads to scarcity of food for whales putting them in danger of starvation.
A considerable chunk of conservation efforts is aimed at protecting the great whale species since their numbers have been worst hit. Some whale species aren’t in danger of being endangered. However, efforts remain in place to protect them as well. The imperilled whales are an excellent source of knowledge for whale conservationists about other whale species in the sea.
To aid in the existing problem of declining whale numbers, alternative forms of breeding are in place for whales in captivity. Nonetheless, it’s notable that the incubation period for a calf lasts between 10–16 months. Therefore, a considerable amount of time may pass before we note a significant change in whale numbers.