Warming threatens migratory whales' feeding grounds

A study into the potential effects of global warming on Earth's largest creatures paints a stark picture.

Endangered migratory whales will be faced with shrinking Antarctic feeding grounds, a report on the effect of climate change on Southern Ocean whales has found.

Ice breaker: Pushing The Boundaries For Whales, is based on World Wildlife Fund research and says levels of global warming predicted over the next 40 years will reduce winter sea-ice coverage of the Southern Ocean by up to a third in some areas.

WWF international species programme director Susan Lieberman said species such as the Antarctic minke whale would face dramatic changes to their habitat within little more than the average whale lifespan.

As the ice pack receded, migratory whales may need to travel 200 to 500km further south to find the "frontal zones" - their crucial foraging areas.

Frontal zones are where water masses of different temperatures meet.

"The impact on whales is one more imperative for the world to take decisive action to reduce the risk of catastrophic climate change," Dr Lieberman said.

- NZPA

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