A team of researchers, including scientists from the NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center, has increased the estimated population of humpback whales in the North Pacific Ocean to approximately 21,000 and possibly higher. The higher abundance estimates come after a reanalysis of data compiled from SPLASH, the largest whale survey ever undertaken to assess humpback whale populations throughout the North Pacific. Their results confirm that the overall population of humpback whales in the North Pacific has continued to grow and now exceeds some prior estimates of prewhaling abundance.
For more information, read the paper and press coverage at the links below:
Publication in Marine Mammal Science: Barlow. J, Calambokidis. J, Falcone. E, Baker. C. S, Burdin. A. Clapham. P, Ford. J, Gabriele. C, LeDuc. R, Mattila. D, Quinn II. T, Rojas-Bracho. L, Straley. J, Taylor. B, Urbán. J, Wade. P, Weller. D, Witteveen. B, and M. Yamaguchi. 2011. Humpback whale abundance in the North Pacific estimated by photographic capture-recapture with bias correction from simulation studies. Marine Mammal Science. 27(4): 793-818.
NOAA Press Release
MSNBC News Article