Researchers have for the first time been able to show visually the impacts that marine traffic is having on the world’s biggest animal off the north of Chile’s Patagonia region. The visualization, widely shared on social media, shows a week in the life of a blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) as it tries to feed amid the buzzing traffic of hundreds of vessels transiting out to the Pacific Ocean. The video of the lonely blue dot zigzagging between an army of red dots is just one part of a more important finding. A whale, the blue dot, dodges hundreds of vessels in northern Chilean Patagonia as it tries to feed. Visualization by Luis Bedriñana-Romano/Centro Ballena Azul, Austral University of Chile. Several years ago, researchers discovered that northern Chilean Patagonia (NCP) is the most important feeding and breeding ground for Southeast Pacific blue whales during the austral summer. Now, a study published in Scientific Reports has identified, within this large space, the four areas where whales prefer to feed in. For the study, the researchers installed satellite trackers on 14 whales to observe their movements. In parallel, they constructed a map with the routes of vessels using their satellite information. What they found when they superimposed the movements of whales and ships is that whales feed in spaces that are subject to intense marine traffic. The situation could endanger the recovery of this unique blue whale population, which consists of just a few hundred individuals and is classified as endangered on the…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer

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