Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Whales Set To Chase Shrinking Feed Zones

Date:
July 1, 2008
Source:
World Wildlife Fund
Summary:
Endangered migratory whales will be faced with shrinking crucial Antarctic foraging zones which will contain less food and will be further away, a new analysis of the impacts of climate change on Southern Ocean whales has found.

Climate change will require migratory whales like this Humpback whale to swim further for less food.
Credit: iStockphoto/Dale Walsh

Endangered migratory whales will be faced with shrinking crucial Antarctic foraging zones which will contain less food and will be further away, a new analysis of the impacts of climate change on Southern Ocean whales has found.

Related Articles


A new report* summarises WWF research showing that levels of global warming predicted over the next 40 years will lead to winter sea-ice coverage of the Southern Ocean declining by up to 30 per cent in some key areas.

“Essentially, what we are seeing is that ice-associated whales such as the Antarctic minke whale will face dramatic changes to their habitat over little more than the lifespan of an individual whale,” said Dr Susan Lieberman, Director of WWF International's Species Programme and head of the WWF delegation to the IWC meeting.

Migratory whales meanwhile may need to travel 200-500 kilometres further south to find the “frontal” zones which are their crucial foraging areas. Migratory whale species which will be affected include the Blue Whale, earth's largest living creature, and the humpback whales which are only now coming back from the brink of extinction after populations were decimated by commercial whaling, mainly during the first half of the 20th century.

Both species build up the reserves that sustain them throughout the year in the frontal zones, which host large populations of their primary food source – krill.

“As frontal zones move southward, they also move closer together, reducing the overall area of foraging habitat available,” the research notes. As the krill is dependent on sea ice, less sea ice is also expected to reduce the abundance of food for whales in the feeding areas.

“The impact on whales is one more imperative for the world to take decisive action to reduce the risk of catastrophic climate change,” Dr Lieberman said. “However, the IWC must also take the opportunity of this southern hemisphere meeting to look at every possible way to increase the resilience of whale populations to climate change.

“For Antarctica’s whales, the best way to do this would be to reduce all other threats – such as the unregulated and unjustified so-called ‘scientific whaling’ of these species conducted by Japan.”

WWF is recommending the protection of critical habitats and for also limiting other non-climate stresses to whale populations such as fishing, pollution and ocean noise.

*Reference: Ice breaker: Pushing the boundaries for whales summarises research commissioned by WWF from scientists Dr. Cynthia Tynan and Dr. Joellen Russell which was presented to the IWC Scientific Committee in the following paper: Tynan, C. T. and Russell, J.L. 2008. Assessing the impacts of future 2C global warming on Southern Ocean cetaceans.

Background

  • Current projections have 2C of average global warming over pre-industrial levels – widely regarded as a threshold level for unacceptable risks of runaway climate change – arriving on average in 2042, with impacts going furthest and fastest in polar regions.
  • Warming of 2C will reduce winter sea-ice coverage by 10-15 per cent overall and up to 30 percent in some key areas.
  • Shrinking ice covered areas affect krill production in two ways –sea ice is a refuge for krill larvae in winter, and an area of intense algal blooms in summer on which the krill feed. Krill is so fundamental to the Southern Ocean ecosystem that the impacts will not be confined to whales but also to seals, seabirds and penguins, and to fisheries productivity.
  • “Frontal zones” are where water masses of different temperatures meet. They are associated with upwelling of nutrients supporting large plankton populations on which species such as Antarctic krill feed.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by World Wildlife Fund. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

World Wildlife Fund. "Whales Set To Chase Shrinking Feed Zones." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 July 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080629143936.htm>.
World Wildlife Fund. (2008, July 1). Whales Set To Chase Shrinking Feed Zones. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 29, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080629143936.htm
World Wildlife Fund. "Whales Set To Chase Shrinking Feed Zones." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080629143936.htm (accessed March 29, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Arthropod Fossil Might Be Relative Of Spiders, Scorpions

New Arthropod Fossil Might Be Relative Of Spiders, Scorpions

Newsy (Mar. 29, 2015) A 508-million-year-old arthropod that swam in the Cambrian seas is thought to share a common ancestor with spiders and scorpions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Vietnam Rice Boom Piles Pressure on Farmers and the Environment

Vietnam Rice Boom Piles Pressure on Farmers and the Environment

AFP (Mar. 29, 2015) Vietnam&apos;s drive to become the world&apos;s leading rice exporter is pushing farmers in the fertile Mekong Delta to the brink, say experts, with mounting costs to the environment. Duration: 02:35 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: New Eruptions at Colima Volcano in Mexico

Raw: New Eruptions at Colima Volcano in Mexico

AP (Mar. 28, 2015) The Colima Volcano in western Mexico sent large columns of ash up into the air on Saturday. (March 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Antarctic Ice Is Melting Faster Than Ever

Antarctic Ice Is Melting Faster Than Ever

Newsy (Mar. 27, 2015) A new study of nearly two decades of satellite data shows Antarctic ice shelves are losing more mass faster every year. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins