Historic populations of
humpback, fin and minke whales were much greater than previous
estimates, says geneticist Stephen R. Palumbi, professor of
biological sciences at Stanford’s Hopkins Marine Station.
Using DNA analysis, Palumbi and Harvard University researcher Joe
Roman found that, before being decimated by 19th-century commercial
whaling, humpback whales in the North Atlantic Ocean numbered about
250,000 -- more than 10 times larger than previous estimates based
on historic whaling records. The worldwide population of humpbacks
may have been as high as 1.5 million, according to Palumbi. The
International Whaling Commission has called for a moratorium on
commercial whaling until current populations reach 54 percent of
their historic numbers.
Stanford Report, August 6, 2003