Population of blue whales, Earth's largest animal, back from the brink of extinction

The blue whale population appears to be back from the brink of extinction after a large number were spotted near the sub-Antarctic island of South Georgia.

The area was the epicentre of commercial whaling in the early 20th century, which nearly wiped out the species.

The blue whale reaches nearly 30 metres long. Now after almost vanishing from oceans there are signs these giants are making a comeback.

Scientists surveyed the waters around South Georgia and last month spotted 55 blue whales. In 50 years of surveys only a handful have ever been seen.

The team says the new count is astonishing and suggests the area is becoming an important feeding ground for the mammal again.

It was hunting in the early 20th century that endangered the species. Blue whales were especially prized.

Within a few decades their number plummeted from a quarter of a million to just a few hundred.

Scientists think the recovery is down to teaming numbers of krill, which the whales eat around the waters of South Georgia.

Scientists will continue to monitor numbers of blue whales, which they believe could number as many as 10,000 now.