California's blue whale population has recovered to near historic levels, according to a new Marine Mammal Science study.
This is the only population of blue whales in the world known to have recovered from whaling, which almost drove the species to extinction. Blue whales are the largest animals on earth, measuring nearly 100 feet in length and weighing 190 tons as adults.
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"The recovery of California blue whales from whaling demonstrates the ability of blue whale populations to rebuild under careful management and conservation measures," lead author Cole Monnahan of the University of Washington, said in a press release.
Monnahan and his team believe there are about 2,200 California blue whales in existence. That number seems low, but it actually represents about 97 percent of the historical level, according to the researchers.
The term "California" is somewhat of a misnomer, considering the range of these behemoths. They are at their most visible while at feeding grounds 20 to 30 miles off the California coast, but they are actually found along the eastern side of the Pacific Ocean from the equator up into the Gulf of Alaska.