Video: Whales thought nearly extinct found in Antarctic Ocean


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In 1982, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) voted to ban the practice of commercial whaling that had driven several species to the brink of extinction, as The New York Times reported at the time.


Now, a new study published in Scientific Reports shows how that decision has borne fruit. The study reported the first scientifically documented observation of fin whales feeding en masse off Antarctica’s Elephant Island.


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“[I] you enforce management and conservation, there are chances for species to recover,” study lead author and University of Hamburg marine mammal ecologist Dr. Helena Herr told The New York Times.


Fin whales–the second largest whales on the planet–were once abundant in the Southern Ocean. In 1892, naturalist William Speirs Bruce wrote about what he had seen on an expedition to Antarctica. “Whales’ backs and blasts were seen at close intervals quite near to the ship and from horizon to horizon,” he said, according to the study.


However, such sights became a thing of the past as commercial whaling exploded during the 20th century, devastating the fin whale population.


“They were reduced to 1 or 2% of their original population size,” Herr said, as The Guardian reported. “We’re talking about a couple of thousand animals left for the whole southern hemisphere area.”


Now, however, the whales are making a comeback. Herr and her research team conducted two expeditions to Antarctica in 2018 and 2019 and observed more than 100 different groupings of fin whales. In 100 cases, the gatherings consisted of one to four whales, according to The New York Times. But the researchers recorded eight times in which the number of whales reached as high as 150.


“I’d never seen so many whales in one place before and was absolutely fascinated watching these massive groups feed,” study co-author and biologist Professor Bettina Meyer of the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), the University of Oldenburg and the Helmholtz Institute for Functional Marine Biodiversity said in an AWI press release.


The whale gatherings were caught on camera via drone by BBC wildlife filmmakers, according to The Guardian.


“The water around us was boiling, because the animals were coming up all the time,” Herr told The Guardian of the feedings.


While researchers don’t know the total number of fin whales in Antarctica, the repeated sightings of large gatherings are a good sign, Meyer told AWI. And the whales’ comeback isn’t just good news for the species, but for their ecosystem and the climate. That’s because, when whales feed on krill, they release the iron in the animals back into the ocean, The New York Times explained. This, in turn, encourages the growth of phytoplankton, which both absorb carbon dioxide and form the basis of the marine food web.


“In times of climate change, biodiversity loss and species extinction, the recovery of a large whale population is not only a glimpse of hope; it is also likely to have a stimulating effect on primary production in the Southern Ocean, enhancing CO2 uptake and carbon sink capacities,” the study authors wrote.


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This art is garbage. Literally


Washed Ashore is hoping to teach people about marine debris and plastic pollution through epic, giant artworks of sea creatures … all of which are made from, you guessed it, ocean garbage.


According to Washed Ashore’s website, the organization works with artists and scientists to educate the public on how consumer habits can cost sea creatures their habits, homes and even their lives. They hope to teach exhibit-goers that “every action counts.” The traveling exhibit has been on display at the U.S. State Department, United Nations, The Smithsonian National Museum’s Ocean Hall and more. You can learn more about Washed Ashore’s mission online.


Check out some of Washed Ashore out-of-this-world, large-scale sculptures and wall pieces below!


This great white shark seems even more, well, great, when you remember it’s made from debris from the ocean!


The detail on this giant penguin named Gertrude is stunning!


This gigantic jellyfish is larger than life!


This colorful turtle was created against the backdrop of its very own ocean, complete with algae and a jellyfish friend!


The Whale Ribs arch is a popular attraction since visitors can walk through it and marvel and the craftsmanship from both inside and outside the arch.


Priscilla the Parrot is a colorful feat that will surely capture your attention.


SeeMore offers viewers a rather realistic depiction of a sea lion, considering it’s made completely from sea rubbish.


This blue marlin artwork is one of many from Washed Ashore that is sturdy enough to be displayed outside!


The magnificent red octopus truly shows off how garbage can be turned into a work of art.


This giant shark comes with its own patch of sea algae, coral and more!


You almost won’t believe this sturgeon is made from garbage; it looks so realistic and life-like!


This patriotic bald eagle stands tall with its wings outstretched to the sky.


One of many jellyfish made through Washed Ashore, this gumdrop jellyfish stands tall over a bed of colorful sea coral.


The tufted penguin’s hair truly does look like, well, hair! And its orange eyes, beak and feet stand out against its black coloring.


The blue and orange trigger fish floats atop some algae and rope.


You’ll fall in love with this adorably cute polar bear named Daisy!


This whale tail statue really shows off just how big the whale is!


Hugo isn’t the only humpback on display! Meet Grace, who has an equally impressive and artistic tail.


The silvertip shark is showed off through this model made entirely of ocean debris.


This heartwarming depiction of two penguins will almost make you forgot about the fact that they’re made from trash found in the ocean.


Edward “swims” with a jellyfish in this colorful ocean display!


Natasha hopes you think twice about littering as she catches some waves!


With its flippers outstretched, Brody stands tall over visitors.


This happy seal sits on a bed of colorful items found deep beneath the ocean’s surface.


Zorabelle is one of man penguins on display at Washed Ashore’s traveling exhibits.


Finn looks like it’s practically swimming in this extravagant sculpture.


Leo is so tall that we couldn’t even capture its whole body in one photo!


Creamsicle’s tentacles are both impressive and elegant!


Marigold is a colorful jellyfish made with primarily yellow, orange and white debris.


This blackberry jellyfish is another massive sculpture made for Washed Ashore’s traveling exhibits.


This epic salmon swims on a sea of vibrant blue water, complete with white foam on top of the wave it’s swimming on.


This adorable river otter stands on a bed of rock with flowers and algae peeking out of its crevices.


Angus is made out of vibrant yellow debris and floats on top of a bed of algae.


This clownfish stands out against a pastel-colored sea anemone.


Bella the blue angelfish certainly looks angelic on top of this vibrant coral reef!


Flip Flop is one of many artworks designed to be displayed on the walls of Washed Ashore’s exhibit spaces.


Fish Bite is a green and blue artwork displayed on a exhibit space’s wall.


Stella is a green, white and yellow seahorse with features made from various pieces of ocean debris, including brooms, mops and combs.


This patriotic sea star is made out of, you guessed it, pieces of red, white and blue ocean trash.


These incredibly detailed masks almost look like they’re straight out of a museum, but they’re actually straight out of the ocean!


Like what you see? You can learn more about the artwork and where they’re visiting next on



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