Humpback Whale Escapes Near Extinction With Population Growing From 450 to 25,000

The population comes from protective measures set in the 1960s and mid-1980s.
Loukia Papadopoulos

It can be a tough world out there. Climate change has a ruthless effect on wildlife, not to mention the damage that we as humans are causing to our planet.


Good news

Once in a while, however, good news comes out of the blue to give us all hope for a better world. 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 has been released and shows that humpback whale populations have admirably bounced back from near extinction.

Back in the early 1900s, the whaling industry had brought the western South Atlantic population of humpbacks to a mere 450 whales. It was estimated that approximately 25,000 of the animals were killed within 12 years. A devastating fact indeed.

Pre-hunting numbers

Just in the nick of time, humanity proved that it can once again work together for the greater good, and in the 1960s and mid-1980s strict measures were taken to protect the species that then seemed to be on the brink of extinction. Fast-forward to 2019, it is clear now that those moves were successful, as the mammals have now reached pre-hunting numbers; over 25,000.

“We were pleasantly surprised by the comeback; previous studies hadn’t suggested that humpback whales in this region were doing this well,” Best told Good News Network.

The study that revealed this pleasant new is the most advanced to date, taking into account detailed records from the whaling industry at the outset of commercial exploitation as well as using advanced modeling techniques. Its authors now believe their research model can be useful for determining other species' populations.

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“We believe that transparency in science is important,” said Adams. “The software we wrote for this project is available to the public and anyone can reproduce our findings.”

Although the study is bound to be useful for researchers, to us normal folk it brings some much-needed good news. As the humpback populations bounce back, we can only hope the same can happen for other endangered species.

The study was published in the journal Royal Society Open Science.