Conservation Comeback: The Humpback Whale

Humpback whales are truly a global species. These mammals have one of the longest migrations around, traveling up to 10,000 miles in a single year — and their beautiful, complex songs are heard by sailors and tourists in every corner of the map. Throughout the 17th century, humpback whales were hunted primarily for their oil to use as a lamp fuel. By the time whaling was officially banned, humpback populations worldwide had been reduced by 95%.

The comeback was slow, but began in 1946 with the establishment of the International Whaling Commission to oversee whaling practices. Hunting humpbacks was officially banned in 1963, and in 1986, a worldwide commercial whaling moratorium gave populations another foothold on the path to recovery. Today, an estimated 84,000 humpbacks swim the world’s oceans, and many populations are still on the rise, even approaching their pre-whaling numbers.

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