GENEVA – The humpback whale, nearly hunted into history four decades ago, is now on the “road to recovery” and is no longer considered at high risk of extinction, an environmental group said today.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature – the producer each year of a Red List of threatened species – also upgraded the status of the southern “right” whale from vulnerable.
“Humpbacks and southern right whales are making a comeback in much of their range mainly because they have been protected from commercial hunting,” said Randall Reeves, an expert on marine mammals for the conservation organization.
Bill Perrin, another expert at the group, said the humpback whale population dropped to the “low thousands” when it was finally banned from commercial hunts in 1966. Its numbers have since risen to at least 60,000, Perrin said, adding that the population is growing at a healthy rate of 5 percent each year in the North Pacific.