Humpback whales have been removed from the threatened species list after a significant increase in numbers in the 60 years since they were first protected, but green groups warn populations could decline again as oceans warm.
Global heating is predicted to have a significant impact on krill populations in Antarctica, a major feeding ground for humpback whales.
The Australian environment minister, Sussan Ley, said removing the humpback whale from the threatened species list was “a recognition of the success of the outstanding conservation efforts that are in place”.
International protections against whaling and domestic protections to preserve the species remain in place, Ley said. The number of humpback whales in Australian waters has grown from just 1,500 at the height of the commercial whaling industry to an estimated 40,000, Ley said.
More than 30,000 humpback whales were killed in Australia and New Zealand.
Previous commercial whaling pushed many whale species to the brink of extinction. Eventually they received international protection in 1965 in recognition of a dramatic decline in global numbers.
A 2019 study predicted population declines and even some local extinctions by 2100. A 2020 study warned that rapid environmental change appeared to be affecting significant decline in the number of humpback whale calves born in the northern hemisphere.
Whales are also impacted by rising levels of plastics and other pollution in the ocean. They get entangled in fishing gear, swallow plastic, and are affected by ship strikes and noise disturbance.
Source: The Guardian
FASCINATING FACTS ABOUT HUMPBACK WHALES
They grow up to 18.3 meters long and 36.3 tons.
Humpback whales can live for 80 to 90 years.
Humpback whales eat up to 1.4 tons of food a day.
Their singing can be heard up to 33 kilometers away.
Humpback whale tails can be as wide as 5.5 meters.
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