31 August 2005

Australia: Humpback whale population on the rise

Researchers say the humpback whale population is slowly increasing but it needs to be protected from commercial whaling.

A group of scientists at Southern Cross University's Whale Research Centre, in northern New South Wales, has been conducting a five-month study on the migration of humpback whales.

Associate Professor Peter Harrison says nearly 7,000 humpback whales have migrated along the east coast of Australia this year.

Professor Harrison says the whales must be protected.

"Absolutely and particularly at this vulnerable stage because it really is just now starting to show significant signs of increase," Professor Harrison said.

"So we need to make sure that we nurture and care for this population so it grows back to its original size.

"One of the key things is that we think there are approximately 7,000 humpbacks in this population that migrates along the east coast of Australia.

"But the key thing to remind everybody is that prior to whaling last century the estimated number in this population was somewhere between 20,000 to 30,000 humpback whales so we're not yet at a quarter of the original population size."

Source: www.abc.net.au


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