A new study led by UK scientists found that the critically endangered blue whale has returned to the Sub-Antarctic island of South Georgia, after 50 years of rampant commercial whaling. Populations of blue whales in this region were around tens of thousands during the early 20th century, but due to the said practice, almost none had returned to the region. The research team is learning how the blue whale species is recovering after the ban on whaling in the 1960’s. Blue whales were almost entirely wiped out in this part of the ocean, with more than 42,000 huntings between 1904-1971. But in February 2020 survey, there were 58 blue whale sightings as well as several sound detections.

“With South Georgia waters designated as a Marine Protected Area by the government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, we hope that these increased numbers of blue whales are a sign of things to come and that our research can continue to contribute to effective management of the area.” said Dr. Jennifer Jackson of British Atlantic survey, whale ecologist and co-author of the study. The return of the blue whale species has a positive impact on the environment, supporting biodiversity and ecosystem through iron fertilization cycle. “Whales fertilise the oceans, and enable the growth of more phytoplankton, which makes more abundant food for the next level up, which is zooplankton – things like krill, which everything eats – so they are very good fertilizers.” said lead author Susannah Calderan. This marked the beginning of the recovery for the species which people once thought might not populate the region again.