It’s time to celebrate for western South Atlantic (WSA) humpback whales. After being on the edge of extinction because of intensive whaling practices, the species is now projected to return to nearly 99 percent of its pre-exploitation numbers by 2030, according to a study published in Royal Society Open Science.
Between the late 1700s and the mid-1900s, it is estimated that 300,000 humpback whales were killed. The study explains that the population of WSA humpback whales went from almost 27,000 pre-whaling to just 440 by 1958. Since then, however, WSA humpbacks have been making a comeback, mostly due to the moratorium on commercial whale hunting imposed by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in 1986.
Today, nearly 25,000 WSA humpbacks are swimming freely, and there is a high probability that the total population will recover in 10 years.
While the conservation story of the WSA humpback whales is a resounding success and proves the importance of legal protection and conservation projects, these encouraging findings don’t mean the species is completely safe. Modern-day threats linked to climate change and ocean pollution present extreme risks for the marine mammals.