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Bottlenose dolphins © Christopher Swann

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The long term effects of whaling still devastating whale populations

Andrew Darby reporting in the Sydney Morning Herald that the impacts of whaling from some 30 years ago are still be seen in some populations of whales.

Andrew reports that ‘Sperm whales are failing to recover from whaling in Australia, 30 years after the great predators were last harpooned.

In the first count since the hunt off Western Australia was banned, researchers found fewer than half of the whalers’ favoured target, bull sperm whales, compared to during the whaling era…and accords with other research that failed to find any evidence of recovery in the sperm whale population, hunted since the days of author Herman Melville’s 19th century white monster.’

‘Leading sperm whale scientist Hal Whitehead confirmed to Fairfax that there was little hard evidence of a re-growth in the animal’s populations globally.

”In my own studies in the eastern tropical Pacific it seemed that the harmful effects of whaling persisted long after the end of the whaling, and the new Australian study also points this way,” said Professor Whitehead, of Dalhousie University in Canada.

”Sperm whales are highly social animals, so the whalers may have debilitated sperm whale society by their indiscriminate killing, and affected the ability of the population to rebound.”’

You can read more on the social structure and complexity in whale societies