Humpback Whales have rebounded from the brink of extinction. Many studies have found that high pressure from the whaling industry in the early 1900s saw the population of humpbacks decline to only 450 whales, after approximately 25,000 of the mammals were hunted. A new study co-authored by Grant Adams, John Best and André Punt from the University of Washington’s School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences revealed that the species’ global population has rebounded to over 25,000 due to the protections that were put in place in the 1960s.
This discovery was published on the 16th October 2019 in the journal Royal Society Open Science. “We were surprised to learn that the population was recovering more quickly than past studies had suggested,” said John Best, a UW doctoral student. The study follows a previous assessment conducted by the International Whaling Commission between 2006 and 2015. Those findings specified the population had only recovered to about 30% of its pre-exploitation numbers. Since that assessment was completed, new data has come to the surface, providing more accurate information on the life history and genetics of whales.
The researchers believe that the new estimates of humpbacks has recovered to about 90% of its historic population today!
Lead author, Zerbini said the findings showed it was possible to bring severely depleted populations back from the brink. "This is good news. Despite all the hunting that has happened, conservation efforts can have a positive impact and if you protect animals, this shows numbers can grow. If you manage animal populations properly, animals can thrive."