After Near Extinction, Humpback Whales Are Thriving In The South Atlantic

November 20, 2019

The population of humpback whales that swims between South America and Antarctica has made a remarkable come back over the last 60 years.

humpback whales thriving

An estimated 25,000 humpback whales now live in the western South Atlantic, The Royal Society reports.

The whales have recovered strongly since the mid 1950s when scientists estimated only 450 whales swam in the region. Whale hunting, which began in the western South Atlantic around 1830, caused the humpback population there to plummet.

This rebound may be part of a global trend for humpbacks. With commercial whaling first curbed and then eventually banned in 1986, the population began to recover.

"A long period of exploitation from pre-modern and modern whaling drove the WSA humpback whales to the brink of extinction," the October 2019 issue of Royal Society Open Science states. "The population declined abruptly after the onset of commercial whaling and remained small, with less than 1000 individuals for nearly 40 years. Once protected, WSA humpback whales have recovered strongly, and their current abundance is close to 25 000 whales. The population status is much more optimistic than previously thought and abundance should reach its pre-exploitation level within the next 10 years or so, assuming mortality from anthropogenic threats remains low."

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