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Blue whale sightings off South Georgia raise hopes of recovery

After single sighting in 20 years of surveys, new expedition and analysis bring 58

When the Antarctic blue whale – the largest and loudest animal on the planet – was all but wiped out by whaling 50 years ago, the waters around South Georgia fell silent.

Twenty years of dedicated whale surveys from ships off the sub-Antarctic island between 1998 and 2018 resulted in only a single blue whale sighting. But a whale expedition this year and analysis by an international research team resulted in 58 blue whale sightings and numerous acoustic detections, raising hopes that the critically endangered mammal is finally recovering five decades after whaling was banned.

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