Chapter

The Removal of Large Whales from the Southern Ocean

LISA T. BALLANCE, ROBERT L. PITMAN, ROGER P. HEWITT, DONALD B. SINIFF, WAYNE Z. TRIVELPIECE, PHILLIP J. CLAPHAM and ROBERT L. BROWNELL JR

in Whales, Whaling, and Ocean Ecosystems

Published by University of California Press

Published in print January 2007 | ISBN: 9780520248847
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520933200 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520248847.003.0017
The Removal of Large Whales from the Southern Ocean

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Commercial whalers in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries exploited whales in the Southern Ocean, driving populations to extremely low levels. In a seminal paper, Laws (1977) postulated that their removal resulted in a surplus of prey in the Southern Ocean ecosystem, with consequent increases in the numbers of other krill consumers via competitive release. This chapter provides a review of the literature published since that paper, and further investigates the effects of this massive removal of large whales and evaluate the potential ecosystem effects of this uncontrolled experiment. Nutrient cycles in the Southern Ocean ecosystem were likely altered by the loss of large whales, but little is known regarding the significance of fecal input from whales, or of the fact that krill, once removed from the system through whale predation, now remain.

Keywords: whale removal; commercial whaling; Southern Ocean ecosystem; krill

Chapter.  8780 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Aquatic Biology

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