28 Sep 2009:
U.S. May Remove Humpbacks
From List of Endangered Species
The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service
may remove the humpback whale from its list of endangered species
, citing evidence that the species has rebounded from near extinction. Since an international ban on their whaling
in 1966, populations of the north Pacific humpback have increased about 4.7 percent each year, researchers say. An estimated 18,000 to 20,000 humpbacks now exist in the north Pacific, a
A humpback breaches
sharp increase from the 1960s, when populations had dropped to about 1,400. About 60,000 humpbacks exist globally, according to the Swiss-based International Union for the Conservation of Nature. “Humpbacks by and large are an example of a species that in most places seems to be doing very well, despite our earlier efforts to exterminate them,” said Phillip Clapham, a senior whale biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The U.S. must review the status of endangered species whenever there is “significant” new information, and this is the first time the humpback’s status has been reviewed since 1999. Some groups object to lifting the endangered status of the humpback, citing climate change and ocean acidification as emerging threats to the species.
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