9 of 14 of distinct population segments of humpback whales have recovered enough to be taken off the endangered species list, NOAA says
International conservation efforts to protect and conserve humpback whales have finally paid off. According to National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 9 of 14 distinct populations of humpback whales around the world have made a resounding comeback in recent years and have recovered enough to be taken off the endangered species list. Only four are still remained endangered while just one is listed as threatened or at high risk of extinction.
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Named after the distinctive hump in front of their small dorsal fin, Humpback whales made their way into endangered species list in 1970. These whales are widely distributed and traditionally found in all major oceans from north Pacific to the Gulf of California, Mexico and Costa Rica to Northern Marians. But commercial hunting of humpback whales for oil and meat had pushed them to the brink of extinction until a ban had been placed on whaling by International Whaling Commission in 1982. This international ban has played an important role in the epic rebound of humpback whales.
“Today's news is a true ecological success story,” said Eileen Sobeck, assistant administrator for fisheries at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in Tuesday statement.
“Whales, including the humpback, serve an important role in our marine environment. Separately, managing humpback whale populations that are largely independent of each other allows us to tailor conservation approaches for each population.”
The change of status does necessarily mean humpback whales are now ‘out of danger’ or the ban has been lifted. It just suggests that the humpback whales have recovered enough to be removed from endangered category but they continue to receive Endangered Species Act protections.
According to current estimations, the global population of humpback whales is just under 100,000 humpbacks and if conservation efforts could not remain intact, different segments of their populations will struggle to survive or retain their current statuses.
Kristen Monsell, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity says. “These whales face several significant and growing threats, including entanglement in fishing gear, so ending protections now is a step in the wrong direction.”