Jan 19, 2022
Conor Ryan, a self-described “whale nerd,” could not believe his eyes as he floated around last week in a boat near the Antarctic Peninsula. Before him lay a glorious sight: roughly 1,000 fin whales swimming in the deep blue sea waters.
As Ryan knew, to witness just one fin whale is amazing, but upward of 1,000? “Mind completely blown,” the scientists tweeted from aboard his boat.
The whale sighting blew Ryan’s mind. Fin whales had been near extinction over the last 100 years due to whaling, or humans hunting whales. A grouping of fin whales that size thriving in the ocean waters is nothing but good news for the future of the species. “It’s like humans never happened,” author Philip Hoare wrote in The Guardian. He was referring to the whaling industry that has killed millions of whales over the years.
Ryan said about four large krill fishing vessels roamed the waters near the South Orkney Islands. They likely drew the fin whales to feed on the tiny shrimp-like fish.
Fin whales are slender but sizable. They usually grow to nearly 90 feet long. In whale circles, that’s second in size behind blue whales. Those whales average about 108 feet long. Fin whales can live up to 140 years. Their populations neared extinction, especially during the peak of the whaling industry in the 19th century.
Photo by Dr. Haus courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
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