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Reasons Humpback Whales are Endangered

written by: Tony Smejek•edited by: Jason C. Chavis•updated: 6/17/2010

There are many factors threatening the endangered species humpback whale population. Here you can find out what the causes of their endangerment are as well as the many factors contributing to their survival.

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    History That Got The Ball Rolling on Humpback Whale Endangerment

    Humpback In the past, humpback whales were considered too fast and large for the hunt, but as whaling ships and technology progressed and the introduction of harpoon guns and faster whaling vessels, whale hunters were able to keep up with the whales with newer evolution in whaling technology. This made the endangered species humpback whale a target.

    The 18th century lead to the high demand of whale product and thus there had been an astounding increase in humpback whale kills. Apparently the increase in value of whale product made whale hunting popular thus littering the oceans with whaling vessels and quantities of whales just kept decreasing considerably.

    By the 19th century, there was only around 700 humpback whales in North American waters.

    Later, the Whaling Commission issued a ban on hunting humpbacks in 1966. Currently, there are only 5,000 humpbacks that populate the earths oceans.

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    Other Factors Causing Humpback Whale Endangerment

    Of course, since that's been resolved, there are other factors that can lead to issues with keeping these endangered whales unsafe in their habitat. With the current oil demands on the rise and oil extraction and transport becoming more frequent these days, accidental oil spills and the countless gallons of oil that spill into the ocean depths can be detrimental to not only to the sea life, but to the humpback whales habitat as well. Sometimes even consistent leaks from underwater oil equipment or pipes leach into the marine environment. Approximately 110 liters of oil leak from this equipment every year.

    Another factor affecting humpback whales is noise pollution. Apparently, acoustic sounds coming from ships and other man-made vessels, interfere with whale navigation and mating. Apparently, as of late, noise pollution in the oceans have shrunken the acoustic bubble of whales, thus decreasing the miles in which they can hear other whales and then missing out on opportunities to mate with each other.

    Environmental groups are finding cases in which beached whales might be caused by noise pollution. Scientists think that acoustic sounds coming form sea vessels are inadvertently scaring off whales and causing them to dive and surface beyond what their anatomy can handle thus causing damage to their internal organs that are not used to rapid decompression. What is happening to whales in this case is similar to what happens to divers who surface too quickly, which is also known as “the bends".

    Global warming is also a factor, as the oceans get warmer, the whales main source of food which mostly consist of krill, are dying off. Also, since whales tend to linger closer to shore and tend to move slowly, increased boating and vessel traffic can often injure or kill whales, tearing their skin with boat props.

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    There is some talk of changing the status of the humpback whales threat level from “endangered species" to “threatened" species. This is due to the situation that humpback whales in the Pacific are making a comeback population-wise. So there is a bit of a bright side to this magnificent animal.

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    References

    http://www.helium.com/items/1503554-why-humpback-whales-are-endangered

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7003587/

    http://www.savethewhales.org/humpback.html

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    Image Source

    Humpback Whale. (Supplied by Whit Welles; GNU Free Documentation License; http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/9e/Humpback_stellwagen_edit.jpg)

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