Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Most North Pacific Humpback Whale Populations Rebounding

Date:
May 22, 2008
Source:
NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service
Summary:
The number of humpback whales in the North Pacific Ocean has increased since international and federal protections were enacted in the 1960s and 70s, according to a new study conducted by more than 400 whale researchers throughout the Pacific region. However, some humpback populations still slow to recover.

NOAA ship Vessel Oscar Dyson stands watch as researchers gather information from humpback whales. Humpback whale flukes, like the one shown here, are unique to each animal just like a fingerprint. This whale could be identified thousands of miles away by its distinctive markings.
Credit: NOAA

The number of humpback whales in the North Pacific Ocean has increased since international and federal protections were enacted in the 1960s and 70s, according to a new study funded primarily by NOAA and conducted by more than 400 whale researchers throughout the Pacific region.

However, some isolated populations of humpbacks, especially those in the Western Pacific Ocean, have not recovered at the same rate and still suffer low numbers.

The new research reveals that the overall population of humpbacks has rebounded to approximately 18,000 to 20,000 animals. The population of humpback whales in the North Pacific, at least half of whom migrate between Alaska and Hawaii, numbered less than 1,500 in 1966 when international whaling for this species was banned. In the 1970s, federal laws including the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act provided additional protection.

"NOAA is proud to have played a key role in initiating and funding this study," said retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. "It is only through this type of international cooperation that we can gauge our success and measure what additional work needs to be accomplished to protect highly migratory marine mammals."

The results of this new report come from SPLASH (Structure of Populations, Levels of Abundance and Status of Humpbacks), an international effort involving more than 50 organizations. Launched in 2004, the project determined whale migratory patterns and estimated population sizes by using a library of 18,000 photographs of whale flukes to identify 8,000 individual whales.

Cascadia Research in Olympia, Wash., the central coordinator for the SPLASH project, matched photographs from six different feeding and breeding areas. By matching whale flukes photographed in their feeding areas with those photographed in the wintering areas, researchers were able to determine the patterns of individual whale movements, as well as estimate the sizes of different populations.

In addition to whale fluke photographs, SPLASH researchers collected more than 6,000 biopsy samples for studies of genetics and pollutants, along with thousands of additional photographs to determine how levels of scarring from line entanglement and ship strikes vary among regions. The samples, which are yet to be analyzed, will provide valuable insights into the complex population structure and current threats to further recovery.

Funding for the SPLASH project comes from NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and National Marine Fisheries Service, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Pacific Life Foundation, Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and the Commission for Environmental Cooperation, along with support from a number of other organizations and governmental agencies.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service. "Most North Pacific Humpback Whale Populations Rebounding." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 May 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080521162541.htm>.
NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service. (2008, May 22). Most North Pacific Humpback Whale Populations Rebounding. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080521162541.htm
NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service. "Most North Pacific Humpback Whale Populations Rebounding." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080521162541.htm (accessed September 18, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Chimp Violence Study Renews Debate On Why They Kill

Chimp Violence Study Renews Debate On Why They Kill

Newsy (Sep. 17, 2014) — The study weighs in on a debate over whether chimps are naturally violent or become that way due to human interference in the environment. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) — The South's tobacco country is surviving, and even thriving in some cases, as demand overseas keeps growers in the fields of one of America's oldest cash crops. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) — Scientists say a female colossal squid weighing an estimated 350 kilograms (770 lbs) and thought to be only the second intact specimen ever found was carrying eggs when discovered in the Antarctic. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) — Squid experts in New Zealand thawed and examined an unusual catch on Tuesday: a colossal squid. It was captured in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea in December last year and has been frozen for eight months. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins