Day By Day

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Whale Watchers

For years now environmentalists have been screeching at the top of their voices about the depletion of oceanic resources. Fish stocks are depleted, they cry, and will soon disappear, and whales, especially, are being hunted to extinction. But that seems to not be the case after all.

Science Daily reports that studies supposedly documenting the depletion of fish stocks are based on erroneous methods. They count the number of fish caught and subtract them from the estimate of the total population without considering that stocks replenish themselves over time. An alternative approach that measures biomass rather than catch shows that many stocks that have been portrayed as depleted and on the path to extinction are in fact quite healthy and sustainable. Read about it here.

And as for whales, scientists from Duke University have found that while the number of whales appearing at older feeding and breeding grounds has declined recently, new "superaggregations" of whales have appeared in previously unstudied areas thousands of miles away from older, better studied, grounds. In other words, instead of declining the whales have simply moved. The scientists, of course, attribute this to climate change, but it could simply be a natural movement in response to the serial depletion of krill in feeding areas. Or, perhaps they are trying to avoid all those pesky humans who keep bothering them in their old feeding grounds. Read about it here.

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