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Friday, 2 August 2013

Biscay Fin Whales

Recent decreases in Fin Whale sightings in Biscay could be due to the recent Whaling activities
in Iceland? Fin are apparently now hunted indiscriminently there.
To my mind there have been decreasing numbers seen in Biscay over the past few years
though I have no proof that the population is the same as the Icelandic one currently
being decimated - up to 76 Fin have been taken so far this 'season'.
Whale watching in Iceland received a nasty jolt when a whale watching boat was 'entertained' 
with a kill from a Whaling ship - hows that for a kick in the teeth for tourism.
It would be a good idea to take counts of the fin whale sightings on board and to compare them with
previous years - we had over 100 a few years back - I doubt we'd see that now.


Steve Hinton said...

120+ Fin whales I think was the count on that trip Rich. About 20 is about the norm, including unidentified large rorquals.
About a dozen were seen on a trip last week, with numbers hopefully will get better!
To watch a kill on a trip would be horrendous! To watch and not being able to do anything would make my blood boil!

Seymour said...

It's true; numbers have declined markedly since the Halcyon Days of the late nineties to mid-naughties. I noticed a dramatic drop in 2008 when average numbers per crossing in August/September dropped from often 3 figures to about 50 and this decline continued until we were seeing single figures on some trips in 2010. Studies in Biscay have shown a rise in the sea temperature in the mid and eastern Bay and some thought that this may have been responsible for shifting their food source further west ie. beyond the transects of the passenger ferries and that, maybe, was why we were seeing less.
However, Richard's news is far more worrying as this, together with the shifting or depletion of their prey, spells very bad news for Fin Whales.
Let's hope the Eco-Tourism Industry in Iceland packs a political punch because otherwise I fear for this population's future.

Steve Hinton said...

Sperm Whale numbers seem to be decreasing in Biscay or maybe because we choose earlier dates to cross Biscay. I remember seeing 10 in 11 sept 2000 and on the second Ultimate Pelagic reasonable numbers were seen. Your lucky to see a few now!
Perhaps This years crossing on the 3 Sept will get a few more, being later than usual.