Saturday, 12 May 2012

Gray Whale Population Up to 5 Times Larger Before Whaling, Study Finds


The population of eastern Pacific gray whales shows a huge dip at the same point that whaling increased in the early 20th century, a new analysis of acient whale genes shows.

Eastern Pacific gray whales are a subspecies of grey whale that lives in the Pacific Ocean, migrating from the Arctic to Mexico yearly. Their population is currently estimated to be around 20,000. They are up to 46 feet (14 meters) long and weigh up to 99,000 pounds (45,000 kilograms).

While scientists have known that commercial whaling decreased whale populations, the specifics of the population prior to whaling has been uncertain. To get a better understanding of the pre-whaling numbers for one subspecies of gray whale, the researchers used DNA samples from the bones of eastern Pacific gray whales that lived between 150 and 2,500 years ago and compared the results with the genomes of modern whales.

"In this case, we were able to look at pre-whaling specimens of gray whales, and found that the genetic data are consistent with a sharp and recent bottleneck — very likely the result of commercial whaling," study researcher Elizabeth Alter, of City University of New York, York College, said in a statement.

No comments:

Post a Comment

You only need to enter your comment once! Comments will appear once they have been moderated. This is so as to stop the would-be comedian who has been spamming the comments here with inane and often offensive remarks. You know who you are!

Related Posts with Thumbnails

ShareThis