A new study reveals that humpback whales in Australia are recovering at remarkable rates; the population increase is “among the highest documented worldwide.”
“As of 2012, scientists determined that humpback whales on the west coast increased at a rate of nine percent a year and on the east coast at a rate of 10 percent a year,” Lars Bejder, a professor at Murdoch University, explained in a news release. “The west coast population had recovered to approximately 90 percent of their known pre-whaling numbers. Similarly the east coast population recovered to 63 percent of its known pre-whaling population.”
This represents a “unique opportunity” to celebrate successful science-based management of a marine species.
A team of researchers reviewed past data and analysis of Australian humpbacks and determined that their risk of extinction is now “extremely unlikely.” This means that they can be downlisted under Australia’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC Act) to “Threatened with a Vulnerable status.”
Similarly to removing humpbacks from the U.S. Endangered Species Act, removal from the Australian Threatened Species List would not eliminate all protections.
“…the EPBC Act would still protect them from significant impacts as a Matter of National Environmental Significance, as these whales are a migratory species,” Professor Bejder said.
This action would also allow for increased funding opportunities for species that face a higher risk of extinction.
To learn more:
- Read the Murdoch University news release: Humpback whales make a comeback in Australian waters.
- Read the Elsevier summary: Humpback Whale Recovery in Australia – a Cause for Celebration.
- Read the study abstract and highlights: Embracing conservation success of recovering humpback whale populations: Evaluating the case for downlisting their conservation status in Australia.
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