“Today’s news is a true ecological success story,” Eileen Sobeck, the assistant administrator for fisheries at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said in a statement.
Humpback whales were nearly hunted to extinction for their oil and meat by through the middle of the 20th century. But the species has been bouncing back since an international ban on commercial whaling took effect in 1966.
Of the 14 different population segments, nine have returned to healthy numbers. These include whales that breed in Hawaiian waters and whose population numbers have expanded to some 11,000 individuals. While the whales that breed off Mexico and feed off California, the Pacific Northwest, and Alaska will be listed as “threatened.”