The blue whale is the largest animal on the planet, weighing as much as 200 tons (approximately 33 elephants). In the past (pre whaling era) blue whales were incredibly abundant (150,000 – 200,000) but over the decades human ignorance and hunting have lowered the whale population to a staggering 1,500 - 2,500 blue whales.
These gigantic creatures were almost extinct until they were declared protected by the International Whaling Commission in 1966. Although whaling is no longer considered a major threat to the whaling species, climate change still threatens them as it affects their main prey, krill. They are also heavily impacted by pollution.
Current Threats to Blue Whales
Vessel strikes are defined as any type of boat the seriously harms or even kills a marine animal. Vessel strikes have killed thousands of blue whales throughout the decades, but the risk is much higher in some of the coastal areas with heavy vessel traffic.
Blue whales can be entangled in a wide range of gear, including traps, pots and gill nets. When entangled, whales can drag and swim with attached gear for long periods, potentially resulting in exhaustion, decreased feeding ability, or serious injury, which can contribute to diminished reproduction and ultimately death.
THE BOTTOM LINE: HOW YOU CAN HELP
Keep Your Distance
Be responsible when viewing marine life in the wild and save the touching and close encounters for the Aquarium. Observe all small whales from a safe and reasonable distance of at least 100 yards by sea or shore.
In some state inland waters, it is illegal to approach a killer whale within 200 yards.
Report Marine Life Disasters
Report a sick, wounded, trapped, lost or dead animal to ensure that skilled responders and scientists know about it and can take appropriate measures. Numerous organizations across the country are trained and ready to respond. Never approach or try to save a wounded or entangled animal — it can be dangerous for both you and the animal.
Adopt a Whale
Make a symbolic whale adoption to help save some of the world's most endangered animals from extinction.
Report a Violation
Call the NOAA Fisheries Enforcement Hotline at (800) 853-1964 to report a federal marine resource violation. This hotline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for anyone in the United States.
You can also contact your closest NOAA Office of Law Enforcement field office during regular business hours.
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