Scientists have finally figured out how many whales we've hunted just in the last century for their oil and baleen: close to three million. That's the largest killing of any one animal by humans in history, at least in terms of biomass.
Before now, researchers were reluctant to affix a number to our whale destruction because figures compiled by the International Whaling Commission—the group that keeps track of what countries killed what whales—were unreliable. This new estimate, however, takes into account illegal whaling by the former Soviet Union to give us a more realistic stat. And it still might be low.
Aside from being a bit, well, depressing, considering that some species like the North Atlantic right whale are still teetering on the brink of extinction, the information gives us a better idea of how many whales the sea can support. Turns out it’s even bigger than we imagined.
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Despite an international ban on commercial whaling since 1986, the animals are still being hunted and killed across the world’s oceans, with devastating impacts on global populations.
The nation’s departure from the International Whaling Commission was followed immediately by the slaughter of two minke whales.
How we got the U.S. Navy to finally agree to stop conducting harmful sonar testing in sensitive whale migration and breeding areas.