Humpback Whale/NOAA Scientists from Stanford University, the Wildlife Conservation Society, the American Museum of Natural History, and other organizations are closing in on the answer to an important conservation question: how many humpback whales once existed in the North Atlantic?

Building on previous genetic analyses to estimate the pre-whaling population of North Atlantic humpback whales, the research team has found that humpbacks used to exist in numbers of more than 100,000 individuals. The new, more accurate estimate is lower than previously calculated but still 2 to 3 times higher than pre-whaling estimates based on catch data from whaling records.

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