A whale is a huge marine mammal found all around the oceans in the world. It is a huge part of the whole ocean ecosystem. Unfortunately, there has been a continuous decrease in many population of the whale species.
The population decrease is so great that most of the whales are becoming endangered. Below are 17 Endangered Whale Species. There are also explanations on the factors that threat these marine mammals.
1. Sei Whale
The Sei whale species is found in the North Pacific, the Southern Hemisphere and the North Atlantic waters. This species has been listed as endangered and currently experiencing a huge reduction in population.
The population decline began towards the end of 1950s. It wasn’t really desired by whalers since it has a skinny body. However, it became a target when other species were overharvested. Now the Sei whale population is only about 20%. The meat is often illegally used for making sushi dishes.
2. Fin Whale
The Fin whale is a large species of whale. It can be found in most oceans of the world. Over a million Fin whale have been hunted ever since the 20th century. From then on, the Fin whale population continues to fall.
Now the population is only around one hundred thousand. The recovery of the population is very slow because the whale is still hunted by people. Other than that, contributing factors such as damage of habitat and illegal whaling also affect its recovery speed.
3. Bowhead Whale
The Bowhead whale is an endangered whale found exclusively in the Arctic and Sub-arctic waters. This particular species has a skull structure that is especially big. The strong and big skull structure help it to break ice while it’s swimming.
The Bowhead whale has been hunted for approximately 400 years. There was a ban to hunt them which helps the population to recover around 20%. The Bowhead whale still faces problems including climate change that continues to warm up the oceans.
Also read: Threats to Marine Biome
4. Humpback Whale
The Humpback whale prefers to swim in most of the tropical waters in the world. However, it still carries out migration from the warm waters to the cold ones. Some of the Humpback whale in specific areas of the oceans are facing serious decline in population.
The loss is due to overhunt. Fortunately, some of the populations have slowly recovered to a good number. On the contrary the Humpback whale populations in Cape Verde, Central America and the Arabian sea are still endangered.
5. Blue Whale
The Blue whale is a common species found swimming in every ocean of the world. The one place it does not exist in is the Arctic ocean. The Blue whale was once heavily hunted for more than a century. This act almost drove the whale species to become extinct. From then on, protection took place for the endangered Blue whale so the species can recover.
Another reason for its population decline is the fact that the Blue whale is too powerful to have any predators. Some other whales may provoke it for fun and leave wounds. Wounded Blue whale may eventually die from the attack.
Read more: Conservation of Blue Whales
6. Sperm Whale
Sperm whale swims in all the open waters in the world. It’s one of the most hunted species of whale. Its body organ was the number one reason why it became the main target for whalers. Inside of the Sperm whale’s digestive system, there is a solid waste product that is used for making candles, all kinds of lubricants and oil lamps.
Other than that, it is also used as an added ingredient in many perfumes. The Sperm whale suffers from all that and is now a protected species.
7. Beluga Whale
The Beluga whale species is an Arctic whale. For centuries, the Beluga whale is hunted down by the people in Russia as well as North America. The population reduction was a great one. Other factors that continue to threat the Beluga whale population is the rampant chemical pollution. There are many toxic chemical waste that enters rivers including the dangerous mercury.
The rivers then carry the waste all the way to the ocean water. The Beluga whale becomes contaminated. The body of dead Beluga whale is considered as toxic waste because of how contaminated it is.
8. Bryde’s Whale
The Bryde’s whale is a large whale species that is found in oceans with warm temperature. It has a similar fate as the Sei whale. The Bryde’s whale wasn’t really hunted by the whalers. It turned into a scapegoat as other whales faced major depopulation.
A huge amount of the Bryde’s whale was caught for many years in all parts of the world, from Peru to South Africa. It significantly reduces the number of its population.
Also read: Threats to Marine Life
9. Antarctic Minke Whale
The Antarctic Minke whale is a member of the large whales group. The population decline of the Antarctic Minke whale started in the early years of 1970. From then on, people continue to overhunt and exploit the species. Now there are only around 460,000 thousands species up to 690,000 thousands left.
One of the main reason thought to contribute to the demise of the species is the increasing temperature of the ocean. As the ocean continues to warm up, the ice melts.
10. Common Minke Whale
The Common Minke whale is protected because it’s also an endangered species of whale. The Common Minke whale is found specially in the Northern Hemisphere. This whale species also faced the issue of overhunting. The act of overhunting cause the population to greatly decreased.
Another reason for the deaths of many Common Minke whale is through fishing practice. This particular whale species usually becomes the victim of bycatch from fishing gears.
11. Gray Whale
The Gray whale population is commonly found in the North Pacific waters. The population decline of the Gray whale has started a long time ago, around the 17th century. The cause of the population decline is thought to be overhunting. Throughout the year, the sighting of the Gray whale has become rarer. Thus, the species was declared as endangered.
But in the year 2010, the Gray whale was spotted in the Mediterranean Sea. According to scientists, the Gray whale might be starting to heal its own population again.
12. Cook Inlet Beluga Whale
The Cook Inlet Beluga whale is found in the waters of Alaska. The population reduction started in the late year of the 1970s. From about a population of over a thousand species, only hundreds are left. The endangered Cook Inlet Beluga whale is vulnerable to hunting by whalers. The species was also known to be eaten by the Alaska Native people.
The hunting has ceased but the recovery is still slow. Moreover, this species is sensitive to sounds. Any noise pollution would instantly harm them.
13. Narwhals Whale
The Narwhals whale species is found in the Arctic waters of Canada, Russia and Greenland. The Narwhals whale’s unique quality lies in the ivory tusk which is its long, extended tooth. Thus, the valuable tusk becomes the number one reason why it is frequently hunted down. Other than the tusk, the meat of the Narwhals whale is also valuable.
Due to this, the Narwhals whale is endangered. Its population is continually decreasing. The species also face the problem of starvation as there are no prey to serve as food.
14. North Pacific Right Whale
Most of the North Pacific Right whale can be found in the Sea of Okhotsk. However, even that population is not a lot. Reportedly, there are only about 200 species in the Sea of Okhotsk. Another place where the North Pacific Right whale lives is in the Bering Sea. The population there is even smaller, consisting of about 30 species.
There is a prediction that around 200 more years, the North Pacific Right whale will be completely extinct. The cause of massive depopulation is mostly being caught in huge fishing gears. Noise pollution is also harmful to this species of whale.
Read more: Ways to Prevent Overfishing
15. Southern Right Whale
The Southern Right whale can be found in most of the oceans in the world. During Summer, it spends most of its time looking for food in the Southern Ocean. As winter hits, this species migrates to breed in the waters around Australia, Argentina, South Africa, Brazil and many more. Overhunting has also been the major issues for the endangered Southern Right whale.
Most of the species are already gone. There is good news though. A significant rise of the population has been observed ever since hunting was banned. This means that the population could have a chance at complete recovery.
16. North Atlantic Right Whale
The North Atlantic Right whale is a species found in the North Atlantic Ocean. This species is so endangered and rare that it is thought to be almost extinct. However, there was report back in 2003 about a North Atlantic Right whale sighting in Iceland. More sightings occurred in Portugal, Italy, Norway, Spain and Ireland.
Ship strikes are a major concern for this species’ demise. Another cause for the low number of species is chemical pollution and noise disturbances.
Also read: Ways to Stop Overfishing
17. Southern Resident Killer Whale
The Southern Resident Killer whale lives in the North America Pacific Ocean. The population is so small. There are only thought to be 80 species left around the ocean. There are many factors affecting the worsening population of the Southern Resident Killer whale. Some of the factors include chemical pollution, passing ships and noise disturbances.
The changing ecology of the ocean becomes a factor too. There are even less amount of prey for the Southern Resident Killer whale to feed on.
Most of the threats that harm the whale species are contributed by man. Actions such as hunting and polluting the ocean water kill a lot of the whales that could drive them to extinction.