IUCN threat status:

Critically Endangered (CR)


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Range Description

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 South Georgia, but the species is rare there now (Moore et al. 1999).

The winter distribution is poorly known, except that Antarctic blue whales occur in winter around southern Africa (including South Africa, Namibia, Angola, and Congo) where they were formerly caught in large numbers (IWC 2006; Best 1998). Elsewhere there are scattered records, but the sub-specific identity is often in doubt. The assumption has been that animals migrate to lower latitudes in winter, but a portion of the population may remain in Antarctic all the year round.


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© International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources

Source: IUCN

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