After being gone for almost a century, a record-high number of blue whales have been spotted in the Barents Sea this summer.
Scientists feared the Blue Whale was extinct after it had not been seen in almost 100 years. Now, however, several signs indicate that the blue whale is increasing in numbers.
The coast guard, cruise ships and ships used for research have reported that they have observed the blue whale in the Barents Sea around Svalbard this summer. Last week the Sea Research Institute observed 25 specimens; and 17 of them were spotted in the same area.
Whale researchers express relief, and are happy that the population of the rare species is increasing.
"The number of blue whales in the north is increasing. This is wonderful news and very exciting," says senior researchers Kit Kovacs at the Norwegian Polar Institute. Kovac has researched blue whales in the Barents Sea for the past 20 years, but for the first 15 of them she saw none. Now she is excited to learn more about the species.
When the coast guard vessel "Nordkapp" traveled south from Longyearbyen last week, they were met by several large whales in Isfjorden. The ship reports all whale observations to the Sea Research Institute, and the entire crew was up on deck to view the incredible animals.
"We see more and more of the big whales, also fin whales and humpback whales. But blue whales are highly unusual. The meeting with the world's largest animal is exciting," says second in command, Jonny Roaldsand.