Is climate change causing failed pregnancies in humpback whales?

Humpback whale breaching

A survey has found that the calving rate of humpback whales in the Gulf of St Lawrence off Canada has halved in the past 15 years. It is believed that this might be caused by warmer water due to climate change. This is because female humpback whales feed on herring and crustaceans and the population of these prey items are declining due to warmer waters. Therefore the females are not getting enough sustenance to enable them to accumulate the energy reserves required to maintain pregnancy or to feed newborn calves.

Humpback whale breaching

Humpback whale breaching. Image by ArtTower from Pixabay

The study was carried out by scientists at the University of St Andrews. They studied blubber samples and sightings of female humpback whales which enabled them to measure breeding success between 2004 and 2018.

They found that there was a decline from 40% of females having calves to 20% over the period. Since commercial whaling stopped in 1986 humpback whale numbers have increased particularly in the Southern Ocean.

The study was published in the journal Global Change Biology and the lead author, Joanna Kershaw, said that climate change is starting to affect the reproduction of the population of northern hemisphere humpback whales.

She said that, “It is possible that other, less well-studied populations are also experiencing declines and calving rates. Humpback whales and other top marine predators are sentinel species, so if there are significant changes at a population level it suggests that there are issues in their environment that are causing problems.”

It is now almost universally accepted that climate change truly does exist and that it is having a profound effect upon the natural world including the conservation of all species and in this instance the reproduction of humpback whales. Climate change is a human-generated major conservation issue.


Vampire Kermit biting Vincent Price in Intergalactic Quality

Vampire Kermit bites Vincent Price

This is a bit of fun and it is about the animal-human relationship in a strict sense! I just like ...
Read More
Brown crab

Underwater power cables cause crabs to sit still and their cells change

The Times reports today (Oct 11, 2021) that undersea electricity cables cause brown crab to sit still. It seems that ...
Read More
Ducks in a row

Reason why ducklings swim in a nicely spaced row behind their mother

After seven years of thinking and research, Zhi-Ming Yuan, has figured out why ducklings swim in a neat, nicely spaced ...
Read More
Canned fish from Russia

Canned fish from Russia

Some of the Reddit comments: In soviet Russia canned fish eats you! Looks like that fish came from Chernobyl. SOME ...
Read More
Octopus for 36 p at Morrisons

36 pence for a dead baby octopus, one of the most amazing creatures to ever swim the seas

The words in the title are those of Justin Webb, 41, on Twitter. He is a charity worker and vegan ...
Read More
Fish with human teeth

Fish with scary human teeth

The teeth are remarkably like a human's. This fish was apparently spotted by some beachgoers in the Outer Banks in ...
Read More