Why whales in Alaska have been so happy

During a normal summer, Glacier Bay National Park, in Gustavus, Alaska, and the surrounding area buzzes with traffic, as vessels of all sizes, from massive, 150,000-tonne cruise liners to smaller whale-watching boats, ply the waters as part of Southern Alaska’s massive tourism industry.

The Covid-19 pandemic brought all of that to a sudden halt. In 2019, more than 1.3 million people visited Alaska on cruise ships. In 2020, there were 48 - not even enough to fill a New York City subway car.

Overall marine traffic in Glacier Bay declined roughly 40%.

According to research by Christine Gabriele and Cornell University researcher Michelle Fournet, the level of manmade sound in Glacier Bay last year dropped sharply from 2018 levels, particularly at the lower frequencies generated by the massive cruise ship engines. Peak sound levels were down nearly half.

All this afforded researchers an unprecedented opportunity to study whale behaviour in the kind of quiet environment that hasn’t existed in the area for more than century.

By analysing hydrophone data, and taking a small park service boat into Glacier Bay three times a week to photograph and identify whales, Gabriele has already noted changes.

She compared whale activity in pre-pandemic times to human behaviour in a crowded bar. They talk louder, they stay closer together, and they keep the conversation simple.

Now, the humpbacks seem to be spreading out across larger swathes of the bay. Whales can hear each other over about 2.3km (1.4 miles), compared with pre-pandemic distances closer to 200m (650ft). That has allowed mothers to leave their calves to play while they swim out to feed. Some have been observed taking naps. And whale songs - the ghostly whoops and pops by which the creatures communicate - have become more varied.

Which is good to hear (literally) but it may be the last time ever that the whales aren’t outnumbered and driven off by the increasing number of gross cruise ships … :slightly_frowning_face:


As sad as Covid 19 has been there’s also been this silver lining - that it’s given the planet and many of its non-human inhabitants a bit of a reprieve.

Humans are like a cancer on this planet, and I have to admit that at times that’s exactly what I’ve felt like, asking myself, what am I actually contributing to humanity or the planet? Why on earth should I continue to exist if I am just a destructive, parasitic, force in this world?

It’s actually been a driving force in my long-term goals - to add something of tangible value to the world and to try and leave it a better place than I found it. It’s the only way I can reconcile existing and probably the only reason why I haven’t annihilated myself :lol:


Whoa, Azz, thats very profound :open_mouth:


… and very commendable, too … :sunglasses:


Innit just!
IMHO this planet needs more hoomins just like that and less self-serving politicians.

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Hats off to you Azz. I read the OP and your response to Mr B. He said something about the changes brought about by the pandemic, the reprieve given to its inhabitants, is a warning to humanity. But sadly, I am utterly certain that very, very few people will actually heed that warning. This must have been a much healthier planet when we all had nothing, nothing but the food we’d gathered or killed and the essential things we’d made for our simple homes. Money, the God that mankind has been worshipping for so long, is killing the planet with greed.

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Congratulations Omah!!:grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes::grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:you are the first to post on the new/ old science and enviroment
category l haven’t checked, but it looks like AZZ has ceded to your wishes ??
Great article by you too!!
Sadly l see the Airbuses are allready gathering??
I fear people will never realise they are actually contributing to the decline of wild life just by travelling
to see it !!
And that therefore eventually there is none to see ??
Donkeyman! :-1::-1:. @Omah


Indeed … there’s the irony … :frowning_face:

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Exactly my sentiments AZZ!!
I fear that the average human, and particularly in the so called developed nations, does not think
further than their next holiday to less developed countries?
Flights can now be cheaper than than train fares now??
How can this be,? and the fly/cruise option is the worst offender imo??
Idyllic Pacific Islands have become almost entirely dependant on tourism with the resulting
degradation that tourism brings? :-1::-1:
Thanks for restoring this category BTW :+1::hugs::hugs::+1:
Donkeyman! @

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@Bathsheba My fears are your fears ?
People are allready queueing up for flights again??
This morning l spotted at least six vapour trails in the sky in about 1hr , all heading west ??
There have been zero for about a year now !!
We are just like lemmings imo !!
Donkeyman! :-1::-1:


@Omah The good news is though, Omah, that the hump backs and the southern right whales are
making a come back due to the banning of whale hunting commercially, and despite being virtually
But allready. Japan and Norway have allready dropped out of the banning and noises are being made
by other countries to relax the ban??
Now what do supposedly advanced nations want to hunt whales FOR ffs!!??


There is one theory out there that says the covid was meant to happen decreed from above - a warning if you like? what has happened ? - well the world population has reduced significantly - from a larger persepective that is good for the planet as a whole - there should also be lessons for us human to learn but that is the harder part - will we take notice. I was reading another science paper that said world popn would continue to increase until 2060 and then go into decline - I have seen it on another site if anyone really wants the link?

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@gumbud Can you give figures for the significant reduction in the human population gumbud ??
Much as l would like to believe it, l doubt it??
A significant number to me would be at least 8 to 10% ??
I admire your optimism l must say !!

Donkeyman! :+1::thinking::thinking::+1:

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