The past, present and future

            The scientific literature mainly focuses on present conditions of whale falls, the fauna and its importance in biodiversity. However, conditions have changed for whale fall species in the form of lack of habitats.

            Today they are calculated to on average 9km apart. (Rice et al, 1984) Some species of whales are dwindling in numbers while others are increasing. But most agree whale numbers are much lower today than they were a thousand years ago or even a few hundred years ago. Since commercial whaling began in the 17th century. Many species underwent massive drops in population numbers, specifically the larger species. Most were killed for oils, meat and sometimes ivory. This sharp decline in numbers mean a decrease in large cetacean falls to the deep sea, this in turn affecting the biodiversity of the deep sea. Before this time it is estimated that whale falls were only hundreds of metres apart along the major migration routes. Leaving larval dispersal and migration of deep sea species easy. With the decrease in food abundance many species may have drop significantly or even gone extinct. However with deep sea knowledge that we have today this is impossible to tell as we have neither the means or the evidence to suggest population numbers for some species (Butman et al 1995).

            However, whaling increased the amount of discards in shallower waters, after the whales were towed to the coast to be butchered, thus increasing the number of scavengers. So a loss for one habitat is most likely benefited another.

            The future of whale falls is uncertain. Many cetacean species are bouncing back from commercial whaling, which was banned in 1986. However, some of the larger species, blue whale, bowheads take several years to mature and therefore the populations are very slow to recover. As such whale falls have probably increased but will never reach the amount it once had been hundreds of years ago. Even with the ban, quota whaling still occurs, usually sustainable. But other anthropogenic impacts affect whale populations, over-fishing reduces fish stocks, leaving whales low energy food sources. Lower food resources generally mean smaller sizes due to the individuals not having enough energy to grow to larger sizes.

 Accidents with boats are an increasing problem. but this may inadvertently increase whale falls.

To conclude, biodiversity of whale falls have a direct link to the health of whale populations and with the human population increasing its reliance on the worlds oceans for economic, social and health reasons. The future therefore seems to be undecided. Whether whale populations will populations will bounce back or not only time will tell.

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