The Antarctic blue whale occurs in summer between the Antarctic Polar Front and into the pack ice zone, being most abundant near the ice edge (Branch et al. 2007). Modern sightings are aggregated close to the edge of the pack ice, while past catches extended further north. Whether this is due to retreat of the pack ice since the time of catching (de la Mare 1997), or because the distribution of the species has contracted following exploitation, is unclear. Over 40,000 blue whales were caught in the waters around
The winter distribution is poorly known, except that Antarctic blue whales occur in winter around southern Africa (including
Habitat and Ecology
Antarctic blue whales are the largest living animal, with lengths up to 33.6m. They feed almost exclusively on euphausiids (krill), especially Euphausia superba (Mackintosh and Wheeler 1929). In summer they feed predominantly near the edge of the pack ice zone.
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
Blue whales are protected worldwide, including the Antarctic, by the International Whaling Commission, and no hunting currently occurs.
The species is on Appendix I of both CITES and CMS.
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
IUCN Red List Category
- IUCN (2008) Cetacean update of the 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
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