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The ‘humpback comeback’ is ‘great news’ for the species

Federal authorities are taking most humpback whales off the endangered species list. (AP) <

Federal authorities are taking many humpback whales off the endangered species list.

The National Marine Fisheries Service said that nine of the 14 distinct populations of humpbacks have recovered enough in the last 40 years to warrant being removed from the endangered list.

The agency says four distinct populations remain listed as endangered and one as threatened.

The National Marine Fisheries Service last year proposed removing most of the world’s humpback whales from the endangered species list. It said populations of the animals have steadily grown since the international community banned commercial whaling nearly 50 years ago.

Michael Harris of the Pacific Whale Watch Association says members couldn’t be more excited.

“This is great news,” he told KIRO Radio. “These are the poster child of species recovery.”

The growing population is being referred to by some as the “humpback comeback.” Yesterday, Harris got a report of 60 Humpbacks in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Some environmentalists say the federal government is moving in the wrong direction by taking most humpback whales off the Endangered Species List.

Center for Biological Diversity attorney Kristen Monsell said that humpback whales face growing threats, including getting entangled in fishing gear. She says the protections should stay in place for the whales.

Five species of humpback will be classified as endangered or threatened, which is a category below endangered in terms of the challenges to survival faced by a species.

Harris says there are concerns about capacity and the food supply, as the whale population grows to numbers not seen for decades.

Dead whales have been washing up, including one next to the Fauntleroy Ferry dock recently. Harris says they are turning up dead in Alaska as well, sometimes in large numbers.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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