Previously unknown group of Blue Whales found in Chilean waters

A previously undiscovered pod of Blue Whales has been found in the Gulf of Corcovado in Southern Chile.

In 1997 scientists found just 40 Blue whales along the entire Pacific coast, but stumbled across more than sixty in the Gulf of Corcovado.

It took until 2003 for the scientists to raise the funding to return, but every year since then they have observed the whales in the gulf. They believe that the Whales use the area as a safe haven in which to rear their young. One scientist told ABC News, “If we find calves, that means the population is recovering and that carries on a big responsibility for us: we need to take care of this place.”

A century of commercial whaling almost pushed the blue whale to extinction, peaking in 1931, when 29,000 were killed in one season. By the time hunting blue whales was outlawed in 1966 it is estimated that the population had been reduced by 99 percent, from perhaps half a million to just a few thousand in all the world’s oceans.

However, salmon farms threaten this group. Salmon are not native to the Southern Hemisphere, but about 25 years ago it was discovered that the cold waters of the South Pacific are ideal for farming salmon from the North Atlantic. Now Chile provides 60 percent of the salmon the USA consumes. This comes at huge environmental cost, contaminating the waters with feed and harmful chemicals and spreading disease.

Full story: ABC News