Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Humpback Whales Come Back

Erich sent me a link to this news item about recovery in population of humpback whales. Buried in the news item is this information:

"The focus on this year's hunt is the humpback, which was in serious danger of extinction just a few decades ago. They are now a favorite of whale-watchers for their playful antics at sea, where the beasts — which grow as large as 40 tons — throw themselves out of the water.

Humpbacks feed, mate and give birth near shore, making them easy prey for whalers, who by some estimates depleted the global population to just 1,200 before the 1963 moratorium. The southern moratorium was followed by a worldwide ban in 1966...

...The American Cetacean Society estimates the humpback population has recovered to about 30,000-40,000 — about a third of the number before modern whaling. The species is listed as "vulnerable" by the World Conservation Union. [my bold]

1 comment:

Erich said...

I had just finished Moby Dick when I came upon this story.

Apparently, whaling has seen major productivity improvements, though I'll let others debate the morality.

In the 1800's, a whale ship would take 30 men on a 3 year cruise to harvest ~40 sperm whales. The recent Japanese expedition appears to be a five month voyage to harvest 50 humpbacks along with 1000 smaller whales.

Thanks for the mention, and look forward to returning here again.