By 2100 some Southern Hemisphere whale species will not have reached half their pre-whaling numbers, while other species are expected to recover by 2050.
The findings are part of new CSIRO and UQ research, which looks at the interaction of historical whaling, food availability and future climate changes to predict whale numbers to 2100.
CEED PhD student Viv Tulloch, affiliated with the University of Queensland and CSIRO, said this was the first time researchers had used this approach to predict future Southern Hemisphere whale numbers.
“We predict that Antarctic Blue, Southern Right and Fin whales will be at less than half their pre-exploitation numbers by 2100 because of slow growth rates and heavy historical whaling,” said Ms Tulloch.
“Although humpbacks are currently at 33 per cent of their pre-whaling numbers, we predict they will make a full recovery by 2050.”
Southern Right whales, which were reported to have declined to 300 before anti-whaling laws were established, raise one calf every two-three years, compared to humpback whales which generally raise a calf per year.
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See Viv Tulloch's interview below:
Vivitskaia J D Tulloch, Éva E Plagányi, Richard Matear, Christopher J Brown and Anthony J Richardson. 2017. Ecosystem modeling to quantify the impact of historical whaling on Southern Hemisphere baleen whales. Fish and Fisheries. DOI 10.1111/faf.12241.
Image: Humpback whale (by Viv Tulloch).