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Humpback whales can be seen in all of the world's oceans. They get their name from a distinct hump on the whale's back. Wikimedia Commons

Marine experts estimate about 40,000 humpback whales are now migrating through Australian waters annually, up from about 1,500 half a century ago.

The humpbacks’ annual journey from Antarctica to subtropical waters along Australia’s east and west coasts is one of nature’s great migrations.


It is a journey of up to 10,000 kilometers and is undertaken between April and November. Scientists have estimated 40,000 humpback whales have been in Australian waters to mate and breed. It is a remarkable recovery from the height of commercial whaling in the early 1960s when it was estimated there were fewer than 1,500 humpbacks. They were slaughtered mainly for their oil and baleen, or “whalebone.”

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Australia’s environment department says no other whale species have recovered as strongly as the humpback since the end of commercial hunting, which ceased in Australia in 1978.


Humpback Whale Breaching in Hervey Bay, Alaska. Wikimedia Commons

Australia is now considering removing humpback whales from the endangered species list because of their growing numbers.

The acrobatic humpbacks that can grow to 16 meters would still be protected in Australia. Conservationists, though, argue that they need more, not fewer, environmental safeguards to monitor the impact of climate change on krill – their main source of food. Krill are affected by the absorption of more carbon dioxide into the ocean.

Olaf Meynecke, a research fellow in Marine Science at Queensland’s Griffith University, says vigilance is needed to ensure the whales continue to thrive.

“Generally speaking, yes, it is a great success story that humpback whales have come back. But obviously, we also need to ask questions as [to] how will this continue in the future, how are present threats already impacting the population, and how we [are] going to detect changes in the future,” Meynecke said.


Humpback whale eating. Wikimedia Commons

Scientists say humpbacks face a combination of other threats including the overharvesting of krill, pollution, habitat degradation, and entanglement in fishing nets. Calves also face attacks by killer whales or sharks.

The recovery of the humpback has helped the rapid growth of Australia’s whale-watching industry.

ALSO READ: Climate Change May Lead To Extinction of Snow Leopards: Study

As their numbers have grown, much about the humpback, a species famous for its song, remains a mystery. Scientists do not know exactly, for example, where on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef they mate and calve.

Humpback whales live in all the world’s oceans. They take their common name from a distinctive hump on the whale’s back. (VOA/KB)


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Photo by Wikimedia Commons

Killer Smog in Delhi.

Developed by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune, a Decision Support System (DSS) that extends the ability of the existing air quality early warning system (AQEWS) to have decision-making capability for air quality management in Delhi-NCR was launched on Tuesday.

The website for the DSS (https://ews.tropmet.res.in/dss/) is designed to help the Commission for Air Quality Management for NCR and Adjoining Areas (CAQM) by delivering quantitative information about the contribution of emissions from Delhi and its 19 surrounding districts; the contribution of emissions from eight different sectors in Delhi; and the contribution from biomass-burning activities in the neighbouring states.

These information would assist in managing the air quality in a timely manner, a release from the Ministry of Earth Sciences said.

The need was stated by the CAQM, which was formed by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, during a meeting held in January 2021.

Recently, the Commission reviewed the progress made by IITM and had in principle approved the current version of DSS for air quality management in the Delhi-NCR. The IITM has also developed a new website for DSS with the entire system made operational, the release said.

Union Minister of State for Earth Sciences, Jitendra Singh, while launching the website for AQEWS on the occasion of 'Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav' week organised by the Ministry of Earth Sciences, said, "DSS is a significant contribution to 'Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav' on behalf of MoES and IITM and suggestions are invited on this issue."

The website also has a feature whereby the users can create their own emission reduction scenarios (from 20 different districts, including Delhi) so as to examine the possible projected improvement in air quality in Delhi for the next five days.

"This information would explicitly highlight the most important emission sources responsible for the degradation of air quality in Delhi and suggest possible solutions to ameliorate the same. With a plethora of quantitative data, the AQEWS integrated with DSS could become a user-friendly tool for air-quality management in and around Delhi," the release said. (IANS/JB)

Keywords: Delhi, India, Pollution, IITM, Ministry of Earth Sciences


Photo by GOI.

On the first day of the two-day meeting of BJP and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leaders on Tuesday, discussions were held on important issues related to education and the National Education Policy-2020

On the first day of the two-day meeting of BJP and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leaders on Tuesday, discussions were held on important issues related to education and the National Education Policy-2020. Apart from senior RSS leader Suresh Soni, representatives of various organisations associated with the Sangh Parivar -- working in the field of education -- were present in the meeting in New Delhi.

According to sources, Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, who attended the meeting on behalf of the government, shared information related to the National Education Policy-2020 and the government's policy on important issues related to the education sector. Pradhan also shared details of the efforts being made by the government in the field of education.

Discussions were also held regarding the impact of the situation arising out of Corona and how much it has affected the education sector. In the meeting, the RSS leaders asked several questions and provided suggestions to the Union Minister regarding the education policy of the government.

According to the sources, RSS wants the policy to be implemented expeditiously. All aspects related to the policy were discussed in Tuesday's meeting. On the second and the last day of the meeting on Wednesday, special issues related to education will be discussed in which representatives of various organisations of the Sangh, Union Ministers and several BJP leaders will be take part.

Meanwhile, in order to convey its point of view to the government on various issues, the Sangh keeps on calling such coordination meetings related to specific issues, in which RSS representatives -- working in that particular area -- provide feedback to the government. (IANS/JB)


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