Humpback whale population is recovering
May 21, 2008
The number of humpback whales in the North Pacific Ocean has increased substantially since international and federal protections were put into place in the 1960s and 70s, according to a new study involving more than 400 whale researchers throughout the Pacific region.
Analyzing a library of more than 18,000 photographs of whale flukes, the study determined that the overall population of humpbacks has rebounded to approximately 18,000 to 20,000 animals. In 1966, the year that international whaling of humpbacks was banned, there were less than 1,500 humpback whales in the North Pacific.
Though humpbacks are listed under appendix A of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), last year Japan announced that it would kill 50 humpback whales for “scientific purposes” (the meat is sold in fish markets). Amid widespread condemnation from environmentalists and government, Japan later canceled the planned harvest.