Humpback whales bounce back from near extinction

This wonderful news comes to us from the South Atlantic Ocean.

Conservationists are rejoicing wildly after new research showed that whales in the South Atlantic Ocean have come back from the brink of extinction.

There was intense pressure from the whaling industry in the 1900’s which saw the western South Atlantic population of humpbacks diminish to only 450 whales. This was after about 25,000 of the giant mammals were hunted within 12 years.

The 1960’s saw protection being put into place after scientists noticed that worldwide populations were declining. Come the mid-1980’s and the International Whaling Commission issuing a moratorium on all kinds of commercial whaling and offered more safeguards for the struggling population.

A study revealed that the species’ population has rebounded to 25,000 which is close to the pre-whaling numbers!

The study was published last month in the journal Royal Society Open Science that refutes a previous assessment conducted by the International Whaling Commission between 2006 and 2015 which indicated the population had only recovered t about 30% of its pre-exploitation numbers. Ever since that assessment was completed, new data has come to light. This provides more accurate information on genetics, catches and the life history of the humpback whales.

Adams, who is a UW doctoral student says,” Accounting for pre-modern whaling and struck and loss rates where whales were shot and harpooned but escaped and later died, made us realize that the population was more productive than we previously believed. “

The study took into account many detailed records from the whaling industry at the outset of commercial exploitation, and the current population estimates are carried out with a combination of air and ship based surveys along with modern modeling techniques.

To, conclude, the study also looks at how the revival of South Atlantic Humpbacks may have ecosystem-wide impacts. Whales fight it out with other predators like seals and penguins for krill as their primary food source.

Image source: Earth Sky

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