17 June 2007

Planet Earth

Watching the DVD of the Ocean segment of "Planet Earth" at Marv's last night.

Included near the end is aerial footage of two blue whales cruising along. The narrator, Sigourney Weaver, tells us that we know almost nothing about them, where they go or where they breed. We watch the footage for a bit more, she notes that they eat plankton, more footage and then, "There used to be 300,000 blue whales, now there are less than 3% of that number left."

I find that I cannot reconcile that we know almost nothing about them and that we have an accurate count.

If we don't know where they go, how do we know we aren't just seeing a very small portion of the population? Sub-populations of killer whales don't overlap much. And we don't know how blues organize. Do they behave like gray and humpback whales and the entire population moves essentially together? Do they form small packs that migrate together?

Gee, we don't know that basic stuff, but we have an accurate population count?

I call shinnanigans.

Yes, I know there is more information about blue whales out there. What bothers me here is that there is no explanation given in the documentary that brings the how we know this, but not that together.

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