A humpback whale breaches far in the air above the Pacific Ocean.
The Plan to Save the Humpback Whales—and How It Succeeded
A strategy to divide humpback whales into distinct geographic populations was crucial to preventing their extinction. But the job isn’t done.
For centuries, humpback whales were hunted to the brink of extinction. But now, following a forty-year initiative to protect them from whalers, their population is finally on the rebound.
In an announcement earlier this week, NOAA Fisheries reported that 9 out of fourteen known populations of humpbacks worldwide have recovered to the point where they no longer qualify to be on the U.S. List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. Humpbacks native to the southern hemisphere, in particular, seem to be flourishing.
Five humpback populations are still struggling however, and will retain their current statuses. Four of these are considered endangered, while one population is designated as threatened.
“The data behind the humpback delisting is solid,” says Robert Pitman, a NOAA marine