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In ‘one of nature’s greatest events’ a party of over 150 ocean giants, signals hope for vulnerable species

In 'one of nature's greatest events' a party of over 150 ocean giants, signals hope for vulnerable species

In a “thrilling” Antarctic spectacle, for the first time since whaling was banned, dozens of southern fin whales were spotted feasting together. This has been hailed by scientists as a sign of hope for the world’s second-largest animal, second in length only to blue whales. The ocean giants possess a slender body that helps them glide through water at a really high speed. However, even this speed couldn’t help them evade whaling. In the 20th century, they were driven to near-extinction by hunters who systematically shattered populations of whales globally. Their numbers reached an alarming one to two per cent of the original population size. A whaling ban in the 1970s helped rescue the mysterious animal from the brink of nothingness.

Although researchers claim that southern fin whale populations have been slowly increasing following a 1976 whaling ban, there have been only been a few reports of these fascinating creatures in big groups at their traditional feeding areas.

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But scientists and filmmakers were able to record footage of up to 150 southern fin whales in Antarctica, in what Herr called “one of nature’s greatest events.”

Wildlife filmmakers from the BBC captured footage of the fin whales using a drone as they swooped and lunged through the water, launching huge bursts of air as they surfaced. 

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According to Helena Herr, a researcher at the University of Hamburg and the study’s primary author, “one or two percent of their original population size.”

“We’re talking about a couple of thousand animals left for the whole southern hemisphere area.”

The scientists unofficially dubbed it the “fin whale party” as the massive animals feasted on swirling krill swarms.

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Fin whales were observed in around a hundred groups over two voyages in 2018 and 2019; these groups ranged in size from eight enormous congregations of up to 150 whales to small gatherings of just a few individuals.

Prior to now, feeding groups of whales were only ever observed with a maximum of twelve members.

The authors calculate that there may be close to 8,000 fin whales in the Antarctic region using information from their surveys. Fin whales are presently classified as “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and it is thought that there are 100,000 of them worldwide, with the majority living in the northern hemisphere.

(With inputs from agecies)

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Euro 2028 bid: ‘One of the greatest sporting events ever held in Ireland and the UK’

Euro 2028 bid: 'One of the greatest sporting events ever held in Ireland and the UK'

The FAI today took another step closer to co-hosting EURO 2028 after they officially submitted a joint “Expression of Interest” to host the tournament along with the Football Associations of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

The submission follows a feasibility study which evaluated the hosting opportunities and local benefits of organising major international football events.

News of the bid had been met with mixed views among football fans. Some question the wisdom of hosting an international tournament when the football infrastructure in the country has been described by Damien Duff as “horrific”.

However, FAI Chief Executive Jonathan Hill is adamant there will be knock-on benefits for the domestic game from an event the expression of interest touts as “one of the greatest sporting events ever held in Ireland and the UK”.

Hill said: “The sporting and economic benefits that hosting such a tournament present would, we believe, be of major significance across all levels of our game and for many years to come.” 

“We will now work with UEFA, Government and all our stakeholder partners to present a bid that makes real sense for Ireland and for Irish football.”

Ireland manager Stephen Kenny yesterday cautiously welcomed the potential bid: “That is a good news story. I am sure the Irish supporters will look forward to having a lot of games in this country. But it is quite a distance away.

“The football infrastructure in this country is nowhere near where it needs to be and it needs serious Government investment.” 

The Governments of Ireland, the UK, Scotland and Wales have confirmed their support for the Expression of Interest submission.

 Minister for Sport Jack Chambers said: “We missed out on a lot of things during the pandemic and Ireland hosting games during EURO 2020 was one of those things. I welcome another opportunity to bring this fantastic tournament to Ireland, should a decision be taken to make a formal bid.

“We now look forward to receiving further tournament requirements from UEFA and we will continue to work with our football and government partners to develop our hosting proposal over the coming months.”

Details of the joint bid will now be worked out over the coming months.

The FAI statement says: “We will develop our proposals further, subject to the publication by UEFA of the full technical specification. This includes engaging in discussions with possible host cities and stadia to define the optimum tournament model, and conducting a full costs and benefits analysis. The Ireland & UK bid will offer an unrivalled tournament from a technical perspective – with modern, well-connected stadia and excellent infrastructure – that makes our partnership ideal to host EURO 2028.”