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Majestic Sei Whales Reappear in Argentine Seas After 100 Years

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The magnificent sei whales have made their way back to the waters off the coast of Argentina’s Patagonian province, after more than a century away. The relentless hunting of the 1920s and 1930s nearly put these enormous blue-grey creatures to death. Whaling ships that plied the coasts of Argentina and beyond wiped out the sei whale population, causing the species to become extinct in the area.


But now that commercial whaling has been outlawed globally in recent decades, sei whales are making a comeback to their former waters.

According to Mariano Scarella, a biologist and researcher on marine ecosystems at Argentina’s CONICET scientific agency, they vanished due to hunting, as he told Reuters. “They were so small that no one saw them; they did not go extinct,” he claimed.

“After nearly a century of being hunted to near extinction, sei whale populations are now bouncing back and returning to their former habitats,” he added.

It has taken decades for sei whale numbers to rebound sufficiently for sightings to occur again, he further said, adding in this case, it took over 80 years.

According to Mr Coscarella, these whales reproduce every two or three years, “so it nearly took 100 years for their population to reach a level where people could notice their presence.”

Sei whales belong to the baleen whale family. They are characterised by their sleek, streamlined bodies, typically bluish-grey in colour. These whales are known for their distinctive tall, curved dorsal fin and their relatively small, pointed flippers.

Sei whales can reach lengths of up to 62-66 feet and weigh up to 28-45 metric tons. They feed on small fish and plankton by filtering water through their baleen plates.

Recently, some sei whales were equipped with satellite trackers by Argentina’s CONICET team to track their migration routes. The Pristine Seas project by National Geographic provided funding for the project. Using drones and underwater cameras, they obtained a wealth of important footage of the whales in action.

Mr. Coscarella credited the global ban on whaling for the recovery, calling it “a success of conservation on a global scale.”

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