Humpbacks Leap for Joy

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HONOLULU, HAWAII—Many of the populations of humpback whales have been declared not endangered and have been taken off the endangered species list by United States federal authorities.

There has been a global ban on commercial hunting of these creatures for the last 50 years. People used to hunt them to survive off their flesh, or used the fat to make oil.

The National Marine Fisheries service has identified 14 distinct populations of humpback whales worldwide. Nine of these fourteen populations have grown large enough to take their group out of the care of the Endangered Species Act protection.humpback_whale_megaptera_novaeangliae_14902935282

The Central American population, which inhabits the area connecting the West Coast and the Western North population, is still considered endangered. Another population within close range that is also endangered is the Mexico population.

Environmentalists groups feel these whales should remain under protection, out of fear of commercial whalers taking advantage of the situation. Some activists say that whales are likely to be a part of vessel collisions. “These whales face several significant and growing threats, including entanglement in fishing gear, so ending protections now is a step in the wrong direction,” said Kristen Monsell, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity.

However others have pointed out whales will have a certain extent of protection, due to the Marine Mammal Protection Act.This act includes that vessels will not be allowed to travel with a certain distance of the pods.hymp

Including whales from Hawaii and Mexico, Alaska has a group of whales that spends the winter in areas around Okinawa and the Philippines. This group, the Western North Pacific population, is considered endangered. Their group includes only about 1,000 whales and has many threats to its numbers, due to energy exploration and development, whaling, and fishing gear entanglements.

Thanks to the protection services enacted for the last 50 years, these whales are now able to continue putting on a jaw dropping acts of nature with their acrobatic leaps.

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