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David @ Tokyo

Perspective from Japan on whaling and whale meat, a spot of gourmet news, and monthly updates of whale meat stockpile statistics



Yet more good news on humpback whales

Good news on humpback whale numbers in Tonga:
Olive Andrews says however Tonga is more positive, showing a slow but positive growth rate in humpback whale numbers of between 5 and 7 percent.
A rate of increase of between 5% and 7% is actually pretty healthy for baleen whales, as far as I know. "Slow" would be more like 1% or 2%. 10% is apparently approaching the theoretical maximum rate of increase that is biologically possible.

To the west of Tonga, in Fiji the situation is not as rosey, as this older report indicates:
A whale survey conducted in Fiji in 2002 spotted a number of humpback whales around the islands of Wakaya, Naigani, and Ovalau, including a mother and calf in Levuka Harbour.
Paton and Gibbs found that humpback whales are still present in Fijian waters, but their numbers are "very depleted" compared to those recorded in the 1950s.
Paton said, "Humpback whale populations are being monitored in other parts of the South Pacific. Some of these populations are showing signs of recovery from the impacts of whaling during the 20th century. With protection in Fiji, which forms part of the breeding grounds, there is potential for the humpback whale numbers to slowly increase."
In 2003, the first sighting of a mother and calf in the waters of the eastern islands gave hope that the humpback whales might be returning to Fiji waters
In the North Pacific the news for the humpback is so good that there is a different problem. There are so many humpback whales migrating down from Alaska to Hawaii each winter that there is increasing concern over ship strike:
An estimated 6,000 to 10,000 whales a year migrate to Hawai'i to give birth and nurse their calves. Their numbers are increasing by about 7 percent a year.
There were six collisions during the 2005-06 whale season, up from four in the previous season.
"The calves are very difficult to see at the surface and they are at the surface quite a bit and frankly they just may not know any better."
In 2003 a three-year old boy on a whale-watching trip in Hawaii was killed in a tragic collision incident involving a humpback whale.

As whale numbers increase around the world, we humans are going to need to take more and more care on the water for both the sake of the whales as well as our own.

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