Could it be that we are witnessing the growth of the humpback whale population? But will it be sufficient enough to take them off the endangered list?
I certainly hope so.
Conservation Efforts for Humpback Whales Working
Humpback whales were first classified as in need of protection under the Endangered Species Act in 1970. But now it appears that protection and restoration efforts over the past 40 years have led to an increase in numbers and growth rates for humpback whales in many areas.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announce late April that the Agency identified 10 of the 14 distinct population segments of humpback whales that could be removed from the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The other four still appear vulnerable to extinction currently or within the foreseeable future and require the continued protection of the ESA.
Not Good News for Sea Ranch’s Visiting Humpback Whales
Unfortunately for the Western North Pacific humpback whale population remains on the threatened list. Also continued to be threatened is the Central American population.
The two populations that do not enter U.S. waters – in the Arabian Sea and off Cape Verde Islands/Northwest Africa – would remain listed as endangered.
Will Humpback Whales Be the Newest Success Story?
Previously, the Eastern North Pacific stock of gray whales was removed from the U.S. List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife in 1994. Evidence showed the gray whales recovered to near their estimated original population size. Thus they were not in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of their range.
“The return of the iconic humpback whale is an ESA success story,” said Eileen Sobeck, assistant NOAA administrator for fisheries. “As we learn more about the species — and realize the populations are largely independent of each other — managing them separately allows us to focus protection on the animals that need it the most.”
Despite removal from the list, the Marine Mammals Protection Act continue to protect all the humpback whales.
Voice Your Concerns
NOAA Fisheries is opening up a 90-day public comment period for this proposed rule. During this time, NOAA Fisheries welcomes public comments and any new information to ensure that our final determination is based on the best available scientific and commercial information. The proposed rule (pdf) is open for public comment through July 20, 2015.
And don’t forget to share with us your thoughts about the proposal to change the humpback whale’s status in the comment box below!
You may submit comments, information, or data on this document, identified by the code NOAA-NMFS-2015-0035, by any of the following methods:
Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D= NOAA-NMFS-2015-0035, click the “Comment Now!” icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.
- Mail: Submit written comments to Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910.
Learn More About the Humpback Whales and NOAA’s Proposal
Click here or on the map below to see the distribution of the 14 identified humpback whale distinct population segments:
For general information on humpback whales, go to:http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/mammals/whales/humpback-whale.html