Library:Humpback whales return to Cumberland Bay South Georgia, one century after the peak of whaling (research)

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Humpback whales return to Cumberland Bay South Georgia, one century after the peak of whaling (research)

Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) return to Cumberland Bay, South Georgia, one century after the peak of whaling is an open access note from the journal Marine Mammal Science, discussing the return of humpback whales to Cumberland Bay, South Georgia, after a century since the peak of whaling first published on August 1, 2023. The paper is authored by Jennifer A. Jackson, Amy S. Kennedy, Connor C. G. Bamford, Ian Hart, Stephanie Martin, Darryl MacDonald, Michael M. Moore, and Emma L. Carroll.

The study revisits South Georgia, the birthplace of modern whaling in the Southern Ocean, focusing on Cumberland Bay. Norwegian whaler Captain C. A. Larsen established the Grytviken whaling station in 1904, leading to significant whaling operations that lasted until 1966. Humpback whales, a major target, were extensively hunted. The research aims to understand the current presence of humpback whales in South Georgia's coastal waters and their potential recovery from past exploitation.

A 2019 survey, conducted 115 years after whaling began, revealed a substantial increase in humpback whale sightings. The study employed whale sighting surveys, covering Cumberland Bay and nearby waters, with a total of 43 whales observed, including mother-calf pairs. The sightings indicate a resurgence in humpback whale numbers, contrasting with the historical decline due to whaling. Comparisons with 1905 whaler catches show similarities in humpback encounters, but with variations in species composition.

The study discusses the recovery of South Georgia's humpback population and raises questions about their current habitat use. It also considers the potential impact of changes in oceanographic conditions and krill distribution over the last century. The findings underscore the importance of ongoing monitoring and conservation efforts in the context of historical whaling legacies and changing environmental conditions.

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