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There they are no longer considered extinct

This is a victory for species conservation: Announced over the weekend Australian Environment Minister Susan Lay has said humpback whales could be removed from the endangered species list. Their numbers in the Australian waters have increased from about 1,500 to at least 40,000. Researchers and environmentalists sometimes even talk about up to 65,000 animals.

The number of animals fell sharply during the commercial whale hunt. More than 30,000 humpback whales were killed by whales in Australia and New Zealand before the end of local whaling in 1963. In 1965 the animals received international protection. Australia’s last commercial whale station, Cheynes Beach Whaling Company in Western Australia, closed in 1978. In 1979 Australia adopted a policy against whales. Since then, the animals have recovered: now again there are two humpback whales in Australian waters. The population, especially on the east coast, is growing well and growing at 11 percent a year.

“Message of Hope”

The Minister stressed that the decision to remove the animals from the list of endangered species was not a decision to remove the conservation measures. These are ongoing. “Australia is a world leader in whale conservation,” Lay said. “We will continue to work with the International Whale Commission to improve whale conservation and establish a global ban on commercial whales.”


Whale rescue work is in full swing in Australia

It is not clear why hundreds of pilot whales stranded off the Australian island of Tasmania. © Reuters

The present decision was made entirely on the basis of scientific knowledge. It sends a “clear signal” of what can be achieved through integrated action, Lay said. “It’s a message of hope for the well – being of all kinds of creatures.”

Uncountable risk: Climate change

Humpback whales are welcome guests in Australia. Generally, mammals feed in the Antarctic and then starve on their way to Australia. Animals may be without food for many months and live off their energy reserves when they breed. From August to November, when the humpback whales migrate back south to Antarctica, they get hungry again.

However, environmentalists warn that the number of animals is likely to decline again if the oceans continue to warm due to climate change. In particular, global warming could have a significant impact on the grille population in Antarctica. In addition to small fish, the grill is an important food source for cone whales.

Habitats are endangered

A Report, The environmental organization WWF released in mid-February, warning that the migratory routes of whales and other marine life are becoming extinct worldwide. Australia is also affected: industrialization is on the rise in eastern and western Australia. Emerging vessels in the breeding grounds of animals and their migratory routes increase the risk to animals. Mammals can be affected not only by collisions with ships, but also by the noise of underwater vessels.

There is also a risk of animals getting caught in fishing nets and shark nets off the coast of Australia. In August, a whale caught in a shark net off the coast of Queensland, Australia, made headlines around the world. After a neurological recovery operation, the animal was released again.

WWF animal rights activists also point out that China and Norway have been fishing for grill for research purposes in eastern Antarctica since 2017 – in areas where humpback whales also search for food. Environmental activists write that the activities of the federal states increase the “bycatch risk”. In addition, there is competition for their natural food source.