#Humpbackwhales; #southernoceansnearAntarctica; #AriFriedlaender, #UniversityofCalifornia, #SantaCruz;
Ottawa, Jun 29 (Canadian-Media): Nearly extinct Humpback whales, who lived and bred in the southern oceans near Antarctica, are coming back, media reports said.
Humpback whales. Image credit: oceana.ca
Humpback whales were nearly extinct in the late 19th and most of the 20th centuries appear to be coming back in recent years after with females having a high pregnancy rate and giving birth to more calves.
This was the result of signing of treatise to stop killing them and protections were put in place for the world’s coldest, least accessible continent.
The end of hunting has fostered the recovery of the school-bus-sized animals whose life spans are roughly comparable to ours, according to Ari Friedlaender, an associate researcher at the University of California, Santa Cruz, who led the new study.
The population was believed to have been reduced to less than 10 percent of its pre-whaling levels.
To determine gender, identity and pregnancy rates, the scientists, led by Logan Pallin, a doctoral student working with Friedlaender, used darts to take small skin and blubber samples from 239 males and 268 females from 2010 to 2016 around the Western Antarctic Peninsula.
As the researchers took their surveys, the whales were often just as curious about the team as it was about them. They would swim alongside the team’s vessel, some with their babies.
Slightly more than 60 percent of the females had high progesterone levels in their blubber, indicating that they were pregnant, according to the new study, published today in the journal Royal Society Open Science.
There were more pregnant whales in recent years than earlier, according to the research. Genetic analysis indicated gender and enabled the scientists to avoid counting the same whale twice.
Although some other whale species also appear to be rebounding in the southern oceans, humpbacks seem to be faring the best, Friedlaender said.
It may have been easier for the humpbacks to recover than the bigger fin and blue whales because the humpbacks mature faster, have a short period between pregnancies, and have centralized breeding grounds.
Fin and blue whales mate in the open ocean, making it harder for them to find a match, he said.
A moratorium on commercial whaling took effect in the early 1980s, though some whaling regulations had been imposed as early as the 1940s.
Twelve countries signed a treaty in 1959 to protect the Antarctic Peninsula. Humpback whales south of the equator are no longer considered endangered, though.
A few northern populations remain on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s list of endangered animals.
For the humpbacks, climate change has been a boon. The warmer weather has been providing about 80 more ice-free days per year when these whales that prefer open water can feed on abundant stocks of tiny shrimp-like crustaceans called krill.
It is likely that a large portion of the animals alive today were born after the age of whale hunting ended, Friedlaender said.
So far, climate change around the Antarctic Peninsula has been beneficial for humpbacks, he said, providing about 80 more ice-free days per year when these whales that prefer open water can feed on abundant stocks of tiny shrimplike crustaceans called krill.
Whale researchers are concerned that this moment of health and easy access to food will be short-lived. Krill stock around Antarctica is being fished by some countries, and threatened by climate change.
Additionally, reduction in sea ice endangers krill, which feed on the underside of sea ice, said Sean Todd, the chair in marine sciences at the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine, who was not involved in the new research.
Krill stock around Antarctica is being fished by some countries, and threatened by climate change.
Todd said his repeated trips to Antarctica have proved to him that krill are essential to life in the southern oceans. “You either eat krill, or you eat something that eats krill,” he said. “If krill stocks collapse, then there’ll be profound changes to that region.”
Todd said the new study confirmed the growing abundance of humpbacks that he had noticed on annual trips to Antarctica.
When he first started going in the early 2000s, he would see a few humpbacks every trip in February and March.
Now, he sees them as early as December, he said, “to the point that you can lose count of how many are around you.”
He said he had also seen a smaller but obvious rebound among fin and blue whales — the planet’s largest animals — as well as the Southern right whale, a cousin to the highly endangered Northern Right Whale.
#IMAX®documentary; #Pandas; #OntarioScienceCentre; #Toronto, #Ontario; #KristenBell; #ChengduPandaBase; #China; #NewHampshire; #DrewFellman; #DavidDouglas; #WarnerBros
Toronto, June 19 (Canadian-Media): The new IMAX® documentary adventure Pandas is being shown at the Ontario Science Centre, Toronto, the only centre in whole of Ontario where IMAX® films are shown, media reports said.
Captured with IMAX cameras Kristen Bell, in this documentary film, narrates how the story about reintroducing captive-born pandas into the wild follows the life-changing journey of a special panda named Qian Qian.
“It tells the story of a team of dedicated scientists engaged in international collaboration to protect the giant panda from extinction," said Maurice Bitran, Ph.D., CEO and Chief Science Officer, Ontario Science Centre.
Dr Maurice Bitran. Image credit: Ontario Science Centre
The importance of scientific research and global cooperation to a better future is highlighted by the larger than life format of IMAX film, for not only pandas but all of humankind.
The story tells of how at Chengdu Panda Base in China, captive breeding program is being taken to the next level by the scientists, to preparing captive-born cubs for the wild.
This film follows one such researcher, whose passion leads her to initiate a new technique inspired by a black bear rehabilitator in rural New Hampshire.
Official trailer of Pandas. Courtesy of Ontario Science Centre
A cross-cultural collaboration an American conservation biologist and a young assistant researcher from Inner Mongolia leads to an expedition to introduce a very curious, captive born female panda cub into the wild.
“The scientists at Chengdu Panda Base have dedicated their lives to creating a more secure future for the wild giant panda,” said Drew Fellman, Pandas co-director, writer and producer.
“We were honored to be there at the cusp of an exciting new program, and to witness an adorable captive-born panda cub named Qian Qian prepare for a new life in the wild. We wanted to share her adventure with the world so everyone can experience her journey, too.”
Drew Fellman with a Panda cub. Courtesy of Ontario Science Ctre
Fellman and David Douglas, the filmmakers directed the film, which Fellman wrote and produced with Douglas as director of photography.
An agency of the Government of Ontario, Ontario Science Centre, is a global leader in lifelong learning and has welcomed more than 52 million visitors since opening as a Centennial project in 1969. opened its doors in 1969.
Guided by a mission to inspire passion for the human adventure of discovery, the Ontario Science provides a vital link in Ontario’s education and innovation ecosystems and a convener of public dialogue about technology, science and society.
(Reporting by Asha Bajaj)