June 20, 2008

Southern Whales Threatened By Melting Antarctic Ice

According to a recent report, endangered migratory whales will have reduced feeding areas due to the shrinkage of Antarctic sea ice from global warming.

The Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) said this could threaten the species. The report, "Ice Breaker "“ Pushing the boundaries for Whales" says whales will soon have to travel up to 310 miles further south in search of food because the ice will retreat up to 30 percent in some areas.

The study also says the whales' food supply will be further reduced because of the balance between cold sea ice and warmer sea water which causes an up swelling of nutrients that could further contract.

WWF officer Heather Sohl said, "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."

The release of the report is timed to coincide with next weeks 60th annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission in Santiago, Chile.

Brazil is expected to propose the adoption of a South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary.

Especially at risk from the lessening Antarctic sea ice are the Blue Whale, the world's largest living creature, and the Humpback Whale.

 The report says the longer migration paths will reduce the length of the feedings season, as well as increase the energy needed for the whales to reach the feeding grounds.

Scientists predict global average temperatures will rise by 1.8 and 4.0 degrees Celsius this century. They blame the increase on fossil fuels used for transportation and power.

The WWF predictions are based on the hypothesis that average temperatures will rise by 2.0 degrees Celsius by 2042.

Image Courtesy Wikipedia


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