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Humpback whale recovery status

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The Humpback whale is still considered ESA Endangered throughout its range, yet The North Pacific Population is under review for delisting.


In 1946, after decades of unregulated whaling, the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling regulated commercial whaling of humpback whales. In 1966, the International Whaling Commission amidst whaling protests finally prohibited commercial whaling of humpbacks. In June 1970, humpback whales were designated under the Endangered Species Conservation Act (ESCA). Some whaling continues by implementation of the Pacific Offshore Cetacean Take Reduction Plan and the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan.

Are Humpback whales making a comeback?

Scientists from Stanford University, the Wildlife Conservation Society, the American Museum of Natural History, and other organizations are trying to figure out pre-whaling population in what is considered the best-ever study. The results of the genetic analysis indicate that the North Atlantic once held between 45,000—235,000 humpback whales (with an average estimate of 112,000 animals). This inexact estimate does not seem sufficient to know if the Humpback whales have recovered from whaling

Humpbacks do seem to be increasing in numbers according to the most recent stock assessment report. The southern Hemisphere data, which is not considered to be exceptionally accurate, is 25,000 whales with a pre whaling estimate of 100,000. North Pacific numbers are about 20,000 while the North Atlantic boasts about 11,500.

While humpback whales numbers seem the be increasing, no definitive scientific determination has been made about the extent of the recovery.


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