Humpback whales come back to southern Africa

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More than 30,000 whales now swim across the western Indian Ocean. That’s up from fewer than 600 in the late 1970s, after nearly 200 years of whaling destroying the populations in the region.

Ship logs dating as far back as 1790 noted sperm, right, and humpback whales being killed for baleen used as modern plastic as well as blubber, which could be rendered into oil for industrial machinery.

Ari Friedlaender, a marine ecologist, says:

“We’ve seen and measured in other parts of the Southern Ocean populations that are growing at the maximum of their growth rate. Humpbacks have a central breeding area, it’s easy to find a mate, and there’s low competition for food. The recipe for them rapidly increasing is right there. There’s no question humpback whales are a success story. We need to celebrate those victories, but it’s a species, not an entire ecosystem.”

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