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Finally Some Good News: There’s a Humpback Baby Boom Happening!

We might be seeing a comeback here, people!


Between the ongoing threat of climate change and the massive pollution problem in our oceans, it's not so easy being a marine animal these days.

That's why scientists are excited to learn that there is a humpback baby boom happening.

humpback whale baby Flickr/Christopher Michel

Humpback whale populations had been in serious decline, thanks to another threat to ocean animals: hunting. The school-bus-sized whales were targeted by the whaling industry.

Some experts estimate that 90 percent of their population was wiped out, and that they may not exist today if treaties hadn't been signed to put an end to the rampant hunting.

humpback whale baby Flickr/Gregory "Slobirdr" Smith

The treaties worked, according to researchers who recently published a paper detailing the results of the six years they spent tracking humpback whales in the Western Antarctic Peninsula. During that time, they would use darts to collect skin and blubber samples from the curious and friendly whales.

After analyzing those samples, they were pleased to find that progesterone levels were high in more than half of the female samples, suggesting that they were pregnant. They also believe that pregnancy rates have been steadily rising.

It's great news for a population of animals that could have been entirely wiped out if it weren't for aggressive measures to stop the hunting.

humpback whale baby Giphy

Climate change, another threat to ocean animals, has surprisingly been somewhat beneficial to humpbacks — now, they have more ice-free days to feed on krill. But that could all be coming to an end soon, too, since krill feed on ice, so a lack of it is not good news for long-term krill health. Plus, the crustacean is becoming increasingly hunted in some areas.

It remains to be seen how humpbacks might adapt to a life with warmer seas but less supply of krill. For now, though, at least birth rates are booming.

humpback whale baby Flickr/westewoud

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