Humpback Whale, Megaptera novaeangliae, off Weddell Point, South Georgia. Photo Credit: Education Images via Getty Images

Animals United Kingdom6. February 2024

Humpbacks Jump Back Up in Numbers

South Georgia island’s Cumberland Bay has seen a resurgence of humpback whales, which have now nearly fully recovered over half a century after whaling stopped on the island.

“Whales, particulary humpbacks, are capable of amazing feats of recovery. I think it’s just an amazing example of how conservation can work,” says the study’s coauthor and moleculary ecologist who studies whales at New Zealand’s Universiyt of Auckland, Emma Carroll.

Long ago, an estimated 24,000 humpbacks were killed in this small region alone, dwindling their numbers to the point of near extinction. In 1966, whaling stopped in the region, but few humpbacks were seen here for over 50 years. Slowly but surely, more sightings of the species occurred, with the most recent study revealing that humpback numbers are more or less what they were pre-whaling. This drastic turnaround is a shining example of how animal populations can rebound when human pressure eases. “We need to keep an eye out and adjust where we can to minimize [human] pressures on these recovering species,” warns a whale expert at South Africa’s University of Pretoria, Els Vermeulen.

Hakai Magazine

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