World Whale Day and the Comeback of the Humpback Whale
Guest Post by: Ava and Lars, founders of SWOP – shop without plastic
“Put your hands up in the air! Humpbacks are back because we cared!”
February 19th will be World Whale Day. This a great chance to celebrate these beautiful creatures roaming our oceans and appreciate their importance for a healthy planet. We will dedicate this article to the Humpback Whale (or short just Humpback) specifically. We will first explain their important role in the ecosystem and then discuss why they are a prime example of successful species conservation.
Why are humpback whales important for our planet?
Humpback Whales play an important role in the ocean’s ecosystem. They are considered a keystone species, which means that they have a significant impact on the environment and the other species that live in it. The health and well-being of Humpback Whale populations is therefore important not only for the species itself, but for the overall health of the ocean’s ecosystem.
Humpbacks play many very crucial roles in the ocean’s fragile ecosystem, three of which we want to summarize here.
- One of the ways that Humpback Whales impact the ecosystem is through their role as apex predators. By consuming large amounts of smaller fish and plankton, they help to regulate the populations of these species and maintain the balance of the food chain. Additionally, their excrement provides valuable nutrients to the ocean’s phytoplankton, which forms the base of the food chain.
- Humpback Whales also play an important role in the ocean’s carbon cycle. As they consume large amounts of carbon-rich plankton, they store this carbon in their bodies. When they eventually die and sink to the ocean floor, this carbon is sequestered for long periods of time, helping to mitigate the effects of climate change.
- In addition to these direct ecological impacts, Humpback Whales also play a role in shaping the ocean’s physical environment. For example, their feeding behavior can create upwellings that bring deeper, nutrient-rich waters to the surface, supporting the growth of phytoplankton and other species. Their songs and other vocalizations also play a role in shaping the underwater soundscape, which is important for communication and navigation by other marine species.
In conclusion, Humpback Whales play a critical role in maintaining the health and balance of the ocean’s ecosystem. Their decline, and subsequent recovery, has had a significant impact on the environment and the other species that live in it. The continued protection and conservation of Humpback Whale populations is therefore important not only for the species itself, but for the overall health of the ocean’s ecosystem.
From nearly extinct to thriving
The Humpback Whale, a magnificent and graceful creature of the ocean, was once on the brink of extinction. However, due to conservation efforts and the ban on whale hunting, this species has made a remarkable recovery and is now thriving.
In the 20th century, commercial whaling took a toll on Humpback Whale populations around the world. The species was hunted to near extinction, with some estimates suggesting that only 5% of the original population remained by the mid-1960s. This decline was so severe that the International Whaling Commission declared a moratorium on hunting Humpback Whales in 1966. In addition, the species was one of the first to be added to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1970.
The ban on hunting, combined with global conservation efforts, has allowed Humpback Whale populations to recover significantly. Today, it is estimated that there are approximately 80,000 Humpback Whales worldwide. This is a remarkable turnaround for a species that was once considered to be on the brink of extinction.
One of the key factors in the recovery of Humpback Whale populations has been the reduction of human-caused mortality. The moratorium on hunting has helped to reduce the number of whales killed each year, and many countries have also implemented regulations for the fishing industry to reduce the number of whales that are struck by ships or entangled in fishing gear.
Conservation efforts have also helped to protect the habitats that Humpback Whales rely on for food and breeding. In many areas, measures have been put in place to protect breeding and feeding grounds, and to reduce pollution levels in the ocean. These measures have helped to create a more hospitable environment for Humpback Whales, which has allowed the species to thrive.
In addition to conservation efforts, public awareness and education have also played a crucial role in the recovery of Humpback Whale populations. By increasing public awareness of the importance of protecting these magnificent creatures, people have been motivated to support conservation efforts and to make changes in their own lives that can help to protect the ocean and its inhabitants.
The recovery of Humpback Whale populations is a testament to the positive impact that conservation efforts and public awareness can have on threatened species. With continued support and commitment, it is possible to protect and conserve these magnificent creatures for future generations to enjoy.
What a shining example of how species can recover from the brink of extinction with the right measures in place! Today, these magnificent creatures can be found in healthy numbers in oceans around the world, and they continue to inspire awe and wonder for future generations.