The commercial value of Humpback Whales was understood in the 18th century and by the 1960’s, 90% of the Humpback Whale population was decimated. Since the international ban by the International Whaling Commission in 1966, today whales are quite abundant. So much so that whale watching has become a tourist attraction.
These mammals are great travelers with annual migrations of about 25,000 km. Due to this, their lifestyle is still an enigma for the scientists.
One of the greatest mysteries related to these whales is the whale song. The male Humpbacks often emit a long and complex series of sounds, which at times has a rhythm. Initially it was supposed that it was the wooing song of males during mating season. However it was later found that these songs attracted males, no females showed any response to it. Whales in different regions have distinctly different songs. These songs keep evolving and changing. In fact it has been this whale song, which has given many the impression that the Humpback Whales might be a highly intelligent species. This helped in getting an anti-whaling stance from many countries.
Now that whales are abundant pro-whaling sentiment is also on the rise.
Japan is planning to kill 50 Humpback Whales every year under its scientific project JARPA-2 from 2007. This project has been under severe criticism from IWC however to no effect. Headed by Japan many countries are lobbying that the ban on commercial whaling be lifted.