Wildlife Extra writes about this video:
Drone footage captures rare sight of endangered blue whale mother and calf
Drone footage of a blue whale mother and calf in the Antarctic Ocean has been released by Sea Shepherd, whose ship the Steve Irwin encountered the pair in late January.
“Filming this endangered blue whale and her calf with a drone was unbelievable,” drone pilot Gavin Garrison said in a statement.
“Spotting a blue whale from the deck of the Steve Irwin is a thrill, but being able to film the biggest animals on the planet from the air is truly awe-inspiring.”
Blue whales occur worldwide including Arctic and Antarctic waters, and are famously the largest animals known to ever live, with a maximum length of 32 metres and a weight of up to 181,437 kilograms.
The calves are eight metres long and weigh four tonnes at birth, and wean off their mothers after seven to eight months once reaching 15 metres in length.
Sea Shepherd did not estimate the size of the pair encountered by the Steve Irwin.
The species has been classified as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list of threatened species since 1986.
However, the IUCN recommends listing the Antarctic subspecies separately as critically endangered due to the size of population loss over the past century.
The last population census used by the IUCN lists the Antarctic population at about 1,700 in 1996 and growing at 7.3 per cent every year.
The IWC granted protection to blue whales by 1966 before the total whaling ban in 1986, and says that despite continued whaling by Iceland, Norway, Japan and the Russian Federation, no blue whales have been recorded deliberately caught since 1978.
The World Wide Fund for Nature estimates the total global population at between 10,000 and 25,000.
The Steve Irwin is in the Southern Ocean as part of Sea Shepherd’s Operation Icefish, targeting illegal fishing of the Antarctic toothfish.
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