The return of the whales of Cape Farewell

The whales of Cape Farewell Ground have been hunted to near extinction during the second half of the 19th century. In the past 50 years, only two whales had been spotted in the area. We do not have more than 350 in the world and this species is considered endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Recent calls have been recorded at Cape Farewell Ground, an area of the ocean to the south-east of Greenland. "There may be more whales out there we think," said the head of the study, David Mellinger, University of Oregon. From July 2007 to July 2008, a submarine recording device established at Cape Farewell Ground by the team of Professor Mellinger has detected about 2,000 calls of whales. The team thinks that at least 3 animals, and perhaps more are at the origin of these sounds.

This group of whales was previously unknown to scientists. "That means that they occupy the zone again or that they always were there" says Mellinger.

Although fishing is no longer appropriate to Cape Farewell Ground, other dangers threaten these animals. Climate models predict that in the ice of the North Pole will melt in a few decades, which could lead to a new shipping route that intersects the path of migrating whales. According to Mellinger, collisions between whales and boats are now primarily responsible for cetacean deaths related to human activity.

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