OCT 27, 2019 06:23 AM PDT

South Atlantic Humpback Whale Population Nears Pre-Whaling Numbers

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

It’s no secret that whaling is frowned upon both by conservationists and the law, but there was once a time in the not-so-distant past when commercial whaling activities ran rampant, and it dangerously drove the South Atlantic humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) population to the brink of extinction.

A South Atlantic humpback whale population has allegedly grown to pre-whaling numbers.

Image Credit: Pixabay

Fortunately, new research conducted by scientists at the University of Washington’s School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences shows that humpback whale protections have helped numbers in this particular population rebound. The findings were published earlier this month in the journal Royal Society Open Science and spell out good news for the species in general.

Commercial whaling was prominent in the early 1900’s, but it wasn’t until the turn of the century that environmentalists had imposed protections to outlaw the practice. Some 25,000 humpback whales were captured in a 12-year period before the establishment of these protections, and it’s estimated that there were only 450 humpback whales remaining in the South Atlantic population at the time.

It’s been an uphill battle to restore the South Atlantic humpback whale population to pre-whaling numbers ever since, but those efforts don’t appear to have been wasted. The researchers found that the population has grown to at least 25,000 individuals, which is at least as many as there were before the commercial whaling practices had taken their toll. 

“We were surprised to learn that the population was recovering more quickly than past studies had suggested,” said John Best, a co-author of the paper.

Related: Some humpback whales act like vigilantes when orcas attack other animals

Studies conducted more than a decade ago concluded that the South Atlantic humpback whale population had only grown by about 30 percent, but new techniques including both air and boat surveys combined with complex computer modeling have purportedly offered better insight, instead suggesting that the population has grown much larger than initially thought.

“Long-term monitoring of populations is needed to understand how environmental changes affect animal populations,” explained Alex Zerbini, the lead author of the paper. “Wildlife populations can recover from exploitation if proper management is applied.”

Things definitely seem to be looking up for South Atlantic humpback whales, and assuming similar wildlife management is being used across the globe, it’s very possible that worldwide humpback whale populations could be growing at similar rates. This is very much speculation, and we’ll have to wait for researchers to collect cold, hard data before we can know for certain.

Source: University of Washington, Royal Society Open Science

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
DEC 10, 2019
Health & Medicine
DEC 10, 2019
Emissions From Cannabis Growing Facilities Could Impact Air Quality
New research from the Desert Research Institute (DRI) and the Washoe County Health District (WCHD) shows that the same chemicals that are responsible for t...
DEC 10, 2019
Plants & Animals
DEC 10, 2019
More Beached Pilot Whales Turn Up in Indonesia
Whales of several different varieties are becoming beached—stranded on beaches—at what many would argue to be an alarming rate. Sadly, research...
DEC 10, 2019
Plants & Animals
DEC 10, 2019
What Makes Lions Such Incredible Predators?
Lions sport a reputation as one of nature’s fiercest beasts, but have you ever wondered what makes them such renowned predators? These large cats are...
DEC 10, 2019
Plants & Animals
DEC 10, 2019
Tiger-Befriending Russian Goat Passes Away
Of all the animal-based stories we’ve shared over the years, perhaps one of the most memorable involved a fearless billy goat named Timur that purpor...
DEC 10, 2019
Plants & Animals
DEC 10, 2019
Healing Fractured Bird Wings with Dog and Sheep Bones Proves Effective
It’s not uncommon for various types of birds to suffer from injuries that render them unable to fly. One of the most common is a wing bone fracture,...
DEC 10, 2019
Genetics & Genomics
DEC 10, 2019
Invasive Mussels are Taking Over Australia's Coastlines
Any type of organism that is not native to a location but ends up there anyway is considered an invasive species....
Loading Comments...