The Humpback whale was very recently on the brink of extinction due to whale hunting practices in the 1900s. as recently as the 1950s there were as few as 450 humpback whales in the south Atlantic Ocean. That is a frighteningly low number considering that at the start of the 20th century- a mere 50 or so years before, there were 27 000 humpbacks in the south Atlantic.
Whales became popular for their oil which was used in a host of things from beauty products to soap and as a result these sea mammals were ruthlessly hunted. In only 12 years as many as 25 000 were slaughtered. By the mid-1960s commercial whale hunting had been banned and a worldwide effort was put in place to help the ailing and under-threat humpback population recover. This global effort yielded positive results and heralded the start of good things. A new study conducted has revealed that the number of humpback has now reached its pre-20th century numbers, equating to approximately 25 000 whales in the wild. What’s even more encouraging is that the numbers have managed to grow in such short time thus exceeding the expectations for recovery.
Although the hunting of these whales has been banned, they still face human threat and Countries such as Japan still hunt whale. Humans are undoubtably the biggest threat and are responsible for all the other things which threaten the global whale population. Shipping is a popular means of export and import and many whales fall victim to ship strikes when in commercial shipping lanes. Ocean rubbish and plastic also threaten whales and many of them die as a result of ingesting this stuff. Sounds from other underwater crafts and machines also disrupt the whales’ sonar system which they rely on for feeding. One of the biggest threat, directly caused by humans is climate change. Climate change is causing sea temperatures to rise, and the change in sea temperatures is affecting the humpbacks most vital food source, krill.