The humpback whale population has increased from 1600 in 1966 to around 21,000 today after a ban on commercial whaling.
It seems there’s finally good news for the humpback whale. An unprecedented number of them have been spotted off the Pacific Northwest after fears the whale was reaching dangerously low numbers blamed on commercial hunting.
Large groups of up to 20 whales have been seen swimming to the delight of both tourists and conservationists and have been giving them a spectacular display for days. Pacific Whale Watch Association executive director, Michael Harris, says they seems to be thriving.
“It’s humpback heaven out there right now. About 20 years ago or so, we never saw humpback whales out there. The last three or four years, our crews started to see them all the time.”
“There are groups working together to lunge-feed. They explode to the surface with these huge mouths open. This is good because they’re feeding and thriving, but we’re not sure what they’re eating,” he added.
Experts believe the change in oceanographic and ecological conditions – namely the rich amount of krill, herring and other small fish that humpback whales feed on – could explain the whales return.
Commercial whaling was banned in 1966 after almost 95 percent of was wiped out and nearing extinction and for many years, the marine giants didn’t return to the Pacific Northwest for quite some time. However, it seems they are now thriving and seeing a return to normal number again after scientists say they have climbed from a population of just 1,600 in 1966 to more than 21,000 today.
Humpbacks would typically travel to the Pacific Northwest from spring to fall before heading to the warmer waters of Mexico, Central America and Hawaii to start breeding and rearing their calves.
“Now we’re seeing them congregate in these large groups, not unlike what you might see in Hawaii or Alaska,” Harris added. “One humpie after another, just an expanse of whales filling the seascape.”