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Humpback whales can be seen in all of the world's oceans. They get their name from a distinct hump on the whale's back. Wikimedia Commons

Marine experts estimate about 40,000 humpback whales are now migrating through Australian waters annually, up from about 1,500 half a century ago.

The humpbacks’ annual journey from Antarctica to subtropical waters along Australia’s east and west coasts is one of nature’s great migrations.


It is a journey of up to 10,000 kilometers and is undertaken between April and November. Scientists have estimated 40,000 humpback whales have been in Australian waters to mate and breed. It is a remarkable recovery from the height of commercial whaling in the early 1960s when it was estimated there were fewer than 1,500 humpbacks. They were slaughtered mainly for their oil and baleen, or “whalebone.”

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Australia’s environment department says no other whale species have recovered as strongly as the humpback since the end of commercial hunting, which ceased in Australia in 1978.


Humpback Whale Breaching in Hervey Bay, Alaska. Wikimedia Commons

Australia is now considering removing humpback whales from the endangered species list because of their growing numbers.

The acrobatic humpbacks that can grow to 16 meters would still be protected in Australia. Conservationists, though, argue that they need more, not fewer, environmental safeguards to monitor the impact of climate change on krill – their main source of food. Krill are affected by the absorption of more carbon dioxide into the ocean.

Olaf Meynecke, a research fellow in Marine Science at Queensland’s Griffith University, says vigilance is needed to ensure the whales continue to thrive.

“Generally speaking, yes, it is a great success story that humpback whales have come back. But obviously, we also need to ask questions as [to] how will this continue in the future, how are present threats already impacting the population, and how we [are] going to detect changes in the future,” Meynecke said.


Humpback whale eating. Wikimedia Commons

Scientists say humpbacks face a combination of other threats including the overharvesting of krill, pollution, habitat degradation, and entanglement in fishing nets. Calves also face attacks by killer whales or sharks.

The recovery of the humpback has helped the rapid growth of Australia’s whale-watching industry.

ALSO READ: Climate Change May Lead To Extinction of Snow Leopards: Study

As their numbers have grown, much about the humpback, a species famous for its song, remains a mystery. Scientists do not know exactly, for example, where on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef they mate and calve.

Humpback whales live in all the world’s oceans. They take their common name from a distinctive hump on the whale’s back. (VOA/KB)


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Comforting Christmas cocktails help you enjoy the celebrations and get into the festive spirit. The Leela Palaces, Hotels, and Resorts offer distinctive cocktails ranging from Hot Toddies to Decadent Egg Nogs. Sit back and enjoy one martini at a time to make the festive season a little brighter.

Dirty Chai Eggnog:

Eggnog is a Christmas favorite that is accustomed to toasts for good health and prosperity. It is an American tradition that has spread around the world. Historically, it has been made using eggs, milk, and alcohol. Our culinary artists have given an Indian twist to this winter drink, making it quintessentially desi!



Recipe:

30 ml Bourbon
30 ml Baileys
90 ml Hot milk tea
Whole Spices
Sweet cream foam to top up

Garnish:
Cinnamon powder and star anise.

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