The blue whale is history’s largest animal, larger even than the dinosaurs. At 33 metres in length, a little over 100 feet, blue whales are roughly equivalent to three school buses parked end to end. But statistics are a weak substitute for actually seeing this animal, a real life leviathan turning the waters of Atlantic Canada. The famous broadcaster and naturalist David Attenborough said it best:
“Its tongue weighs as much as an elephant, its heart is the size of a car and some of its blood vessels are so wide, you can swim down them.”
Blue whales were once abundant is our world’s oceans, but now a dwindling few remaining. Atlantic Canada is no exception to this global trend. Today, it’s estimated by the Department of Fisheries and Ocean (DFO) fewer than 250 adult blues remain locally. Canada played a role in the slaughter of the blue whale, but now we can play a role in its recovery.
The northwest Atlantic blue whale population was listed as endangered under the Species at Risk Act in 2005. As an endangered species, the blue whale is entitled to have its critical habitat protected under Canadian law. However, this critical habitat has not yet been identified by the DFO, therefore, no stretch of water has been safeguarded for the sake of the blue whale’s recovery.
The DFO is supposed to identify the blue whale’s critical habitat by the end of 2014, but officials have cast doubt on that deadline and as of now, 2017, that critical identification has not taken place.