Written by Dr. Kirsten Thompson, the TIME article discusses humpback whales’ decline and recovery. It talks about how there used to be about 27,000 humpback whales in the 1830s, and how commercial whaling reduced those numbers to just 450 by the mid-1950s.
Fortunately, most commercial whaling was banned in 1986, although some countries found loopholes.
Thanks in large part to this ban, humpback whale populations have now almost fully recovered – especially in Antarctica, where Dr. Thompson has worked. This is good news for the entire planet.
Whales are important for many reasons, besides the fact that they’re awesome. Great whales like humpbacks store tons of carbon, and when they die their carbon remains in the deep sea, rather than being ejected into the atmosphere where it could contribute to climate change.
Thus, the recovery of great whale populations might help to slow climate change.
The humpback whale recovery also shows that the right policies can achieve amazing results. When countries come together for a common goal, like protecting whales, success is possible.
For this reason, Dr. Thompson ends her article by advocating for large-scale, international efforts to protect our oceans.
It’s no secret that the oceans – arguably the most important ecosystems on Earth – are facing dire challenges: pollution, overfishing, climate change, and more. However, Dr. Thompson writes that if we safeguard 30% of the oceans through well-designed protected areas, much of the life within them could recover “within our lifetimes.”
Be sure to read the original article for more information!