Ancient whales, secret passages and diversity

Getting to see the relatives can be a chore for most, especially if they’re a long way away. Now imagine your relatives live in a different ocean, separated by a continent, and the only way there is frozen solid all year long. This is the problem that the Atlantic Bowhead whale populations face if they wish to meet their Pacific dwelling relatives; presumably separated millennia ago as the arctic froze, slamming shut the door of the Northwest Passage until recently. Or so it was thought. Sadly, the whale’s problems didn’t stop there; subsistence hunting by man resulted in some loss of numbers, and then as commercial whaling began they were put on the track of an endangered species. Fortunately, now commercial whaling has (mostly) stopped, they are recovering. Both the separation of populations and hunting have forced the whales through something of bottleneck; an event thought to impact on the ...(Read More)