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We need whale poo 📷 WDC NA

Whales are our climate allies – meet the scientists busy proving it

At Whale and Dolphin Conservation, we're working hard to bring whales and the ocean into...
Minke whale © Ursula Tscherter - ORES

The whale trappers are back with their cruel experiment

Anyone walking past my window might have heard my groan of disbelief at the news...
Boto © Fernando Trujillo

Meet the legendary pink river dolphins

Botos don't look or live like other dolphins. Flamingo-pink all over with super-skinny snouts and...
Risso's dolphin entangled in fishing line and plastic bags - Andrew Sutton

The ocean is awash with plastic – can we ever clean it up?

You've seen pictures of plastic litter accumulating on beaches or marine wildlife swimming through floating...
Fin whale

Is this the beginning of the end for whaling off Iceland?

I'm feeling cautiously optimistic after Iceland's Fisheries Minister Svandís Svavarsdóttir wrote that there is little...
Mykines Lighthouse, Faroe Islands

Understanding whale and dolphin hunts in the Faroe Islands – why change is not easy

Most people in my home country of the Faroe Islands would like to see an...

Dolphin scientists look like you and me – citizen science in action

Our amazing volunteers have looked out for dolphins from the shores of Scotland more than...
Atlantic white-sided dolphins

The Faroes dolphin slaughter that sparked an outcry now brings hope

Since the slaughter of at least 1,423 Atlantic white-sided dolphins at Skálafjørður in my home...

North Pacific home to five distinct humpback whale populations

Earlier this year, the Hawai’i Fishermen’s Alliance for Conservation and Tradition, Inc. submitted a petition to the federal government seeking to identify the North Pacific population of humpback whales as one distinct population segment (DPS) and then have this DPS removed from the Endangered Species Act (ESA). WDC North America subsequently submitted comments (attached as PDF below) to the government outlining the case for why these whales should remain protected under the ESA.  WDC emphasized that the North Pacific humpback whales appear to be composed of more than just one population, and therefore would not qualify as a DPS. Now a recent study has been published that supports these claims, and proposes that there are actually five distinct populations of humpback whales in the North Pacific.

Researchers collected tissue samples from humpback whales across the North Pacific, and were able to identify five distinct groups based on DNA analysis. They concluded that these whales have high site fidelity, meaning that they return to the same feeding and breeding grounds each year, usually based on where their mothers first brought them as calves. Although a few whales might go to a different feeding or breeding ground each year, there is not enough genetic mixing involved to result in a single population of North Pacific humpback whales.

WDC is hopeful that this new research, along with our comments,  will result in a denial of the petition to delist the North Pacific humpback whale from the ESA, as these populations are still facing many threats to their recovery including entanglements in fishing gear, vessel strikes, habitat degradation and climate change, and cannot afford to lose the protections that they receive as an officially recognized endangered species.