A study by the University of Zurich, Massey University and Canterbury in New Zealand and Australia’s University of Finders shows that whale populations are moving south as the oceans warm.
According to the study, the habitat of blue whales and amberjacks could be reduced by 61% in the worst case, but by at least 42%, all of which could primarily affect New Zealand’s northern waters. Katharina Peters, director of research at the University of Zurich, believes that even in the best-case scenario, the habitat of blue whales and amberjacks in New Zealand could change dramatically.
According to the study, island nations like New Zealand are particularly vulnerable to climate change. For example, they mentioned that sperm whales are a tourist attraction in New Zealand, so they have become an economic factor. The study warns that whale watching tours will be halted if fewer marine mammals can be seen.
In addition to the economic impacts, the environmental impact of large whale migration is also significant – the study indicates that whales play an important role in the food chain. Thus, shifting the habitat of blue and amberjack to Antarctica could upset the ecological balance in the waters around New Zealand.
According to the study, the area around the South Island of New Zealand can serve as a refuge for these two species, and for its protection it is important to create protected areas and regulate the extraction of petroleum and natural gas.
Amberjack (Physeter macrocephalus) is found in all oceans and feeds mainly on deep-sea squid. Large bulls grow to more than 20 meters in length and weigh more than 50 tons, and females are much smaller.
The blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) is one of the largest animals on Earth, it can reach 33 meters in length and 200 tons in weight. The average length of the animal is 26 meters, and its relatives living in the southern hemisphere are larger. Blue whales, like sperm whales, are found in all oceans, but in this group the females are larger than the males.
Opening photo: MTI / EPA
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