Many of the most beautiful animals in the Antarctic and surrounding areas are endangered. If we are not careful, these wonderful animals that are part of a larger ecosystem will soon be gone for good. Animals of all shapes and sizes are at risk despite their endangered and protected status.
Southern Right Whale
The Southern Right Whale is easily distinguished from other whales by callosities on its head as well as a large mouth that arches downward from right beneath the eyes. These whales do not have a dorsal fin and they are dark gray or black and may or may not have white spots on their abdomen.
These whales are endangered due to the commercial whaling industry. The whaling industry has been endangering this species since 1791 and it wasn’t until 1935 that it was realized that this species of whales was all but gone. The Southern Right Whale was the first whale to receive a protected status, meaning they could no longer be caught. Up until they received the protective status it is known that at least 26,000 Southern Right Whales were killed due to the whaling industry.
The blue whale is the largest whale in the sea. They usually grow to about 80 feet and weigh in at 120 tons. The whale has eight-foot-long flippers and a dorsal fin that is toward the rear. Blue whales are distinguished not only by their size but also the blue gray skin with white or gray spots.
Blue whales are endangered because of the whaling industry. Throughout the 1930s, 40s and 50s, tens of thousands of blue whales were killed every year. The result was that by the 1960s there were an estimated 10,000 blue whales left. Ever since, the blue whale has been protected by international law, meaning they are not to be captured or killed.
The Amsterdam Albatross is a large bird that is chocolate brown in the upper body and has a white face and throat, a white lower breast and a brown undertail. The Amsterdam Albatross is endangered because its numbers have fallen to an estimated 90 individuals and only 10 to 20 breeding pairs. The numbers have been on the decline due to the presence of feral cats that feed on the birds, fires, and long line fishing. Long line fishing and avian cholera have contributed to much of the loss.
Northern Royal Albatross
The northern royal albatross is a white and black albatross that has a white head and neck and tail region and black wings. The species lives in the Antarctic and surrounding regions. The northern royal albatross is endangered because it has a very small breeding area that was negatively impacted by storms in the 1980s, which has resulted in poor breeding ever since. Since being listed as endangered, the numbers of individuals and breeding pairs have remained stable.
The Tristan albatross is a large albatross that has a white body and black wings, and without being up close, one may not be able to distinguish between this albatross and others. The Tristan albatross is endangered because it has a very small breeding range and a dwindling population. Contributing to the dwindling population is long line fishing as well as rats and mice preying on the eggs of the birds.