Humpback whales live in oceans around the world. They travel incredible distances every year and have one of the longest migrations of any mammal on the planet.
Some populations swim 5,000 miles from tropical breeding grounds to colder, abundant food areas – this is why it is difficult to estimate population size, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Of the 14 different populations, 12 are estimated to have more than 2,000 humpbacks each and two are estimated to be less than 2,000.
Humpback whales live in oceans around the world. They travel incredible distances every year and have one of the longest migrations of any mammal on the planet
Some populations (such as those from East and West Australia) have an estimated 20,000 animals – a remarkable recovery, given that the same populations were nearly eradicated by whaling almost 60 years ago.
In contrast, the smallest known population is one that lives in the Arabian Sea all year round and has perhaps 80 individuals.
Threats to humpbacks include a decrease in food such as Krill as a result of a combination of climate change and fishing on an industrial scale.
Humpback whales can become entangled in many different types of gear, such as berths, traps, pots or gill nets.
Once entangled, if the whale is able to shift, drag and swim with attached equipment for long distances, the whale can end up fatigue, reduced feed capacity or serious injury.
There are indications that most humpback whales experience entanglement in the course of their lives, but can often discard things themselves.
Unintended vessel attacks can damage or kill humpbacks.
Humpback whales are vulnerable to ship attacks throughout their area, but the risk is much greater in some coastal areas with heavy shipping traffic.
Underwater noise threatens whale populations, interrupts their normal behavior and drives them away from areas that are important for their survival.
Sound has been shown to increase the stress hormones in their system and to mask the natural sounds that humpbacks need to communicate and locate prey.
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