Whale expert warns of new threat to humpbacks off Australian coast

Source: Xinhua| 2021-04-26 11:12:26|Editor: huaxia

SYDNEY, April 26 (Xinhua) -- A leading whale expert in Australia has spoken out against that country's consideration of removing humpbacks from its list of threatened animals.

Olaf Meynecke from the Griffith Center for Coastal Management in the Australian state of Queensland told Xinhua on Monday that the federal government's proposal held inherent dangers.

"There are many threats and uncertainties," he said. "The delisting will mean less resources available for research and protection of the whales and it has consequences for many funding schemes that specifically favor work on threatened species."

Meynecke said humpbacks, like many animals, face new and emerging challenges, including climate change.

The whales are encountering warming waters, shifting currents and ocean acidification. Other threats include the commercial over-harvesting of krill, one of the whales' main food sources. Humpbacks can eat up to 1,360 kg of food daily.

Between 1949 and 1962 Australian whalers killed about 8,300 humpbacks off the east coast, until only a few hundred were left.

Meynecke said although their numbers have risen over the following decades, doing an accurate whale "census" remained very difficult as whales often moved between herds, meaning the same one could get counted two or more times.

Whatever their numbers are, he argued the humpback whales must be safeguarded.

The expert also pointed out the majestic mammals are economically valuable.

"Humpbacks are Australia's number one whale watching species," he said. "They are worth millions of dollars to the economy through the whale watching industry." Enditem