A new study into Western South Atlantic humpback whale populations has revealed the population is well on its way to recovery following efforts to ensure greater protection over recent decades.
Though they once had a global population of almost 30,000, numbers of these humpbacks dwindled to just a few hundred in the 1950s following centuries of exploitation. When researchers realised just how dire the situation was, they acted swiftly to establish the International Whaling Commission and put in place greater protection standards for a number of whale species.
According to a recent study from the Royal Society, those preservation efforts appear to have shown success for the Western South Atlantic humpback at least. Population numbers of the animal are back up to approximately 25,000, about 93 percent of their estimated levels pre-exploitation, and the researchers say the findings are important to inform conservation efforts for other species.
“If you manage animal populations properly, animals can thrive, as shown here,” said Dr. Alex Zerbini of the Royal Society’s report on whale recovery told CNN.
“This is good news. Despite all the killing that has happened, conservation efforts can have a positive impact and if you protect animals, this shows numbers can grow.”
The study is also investigating how the revival of these South Atlantic humpback populations might affect the wider ecosystem in the future. The whales are increasingly searching for more krill, so they may end up competing with species of penguin and seals in shared feeding areas.
- To find out more about what Australia is doing to protect whales in our waters, check out this fact sheet outlining whale conservation efforts.
- Plastic pollution poses a significant threat to marine mammals such as whales. Be sure to dispose of plastic waste responsibly and recycle wherever possible. For more information on what can and can’t be recycled in your local area, visit Recycling Near You.
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Positive Environment News has been compiled using publicly available information. Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes.