The population of the gray whale species has made a remarkable recovery as a result of legal protection. In 1995, their population was removed from the endangered species list. Unfortunately, other species of whales have not been able to recover quickly as the eastern gray and most remain highly endangered. The gray whale’s range formerly included the coasts of both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The Atlantic population had been hunted to extinction by the 1700s and in the early 1900s it seemed that the two Pacific populations (eastern and weatern) would follow.
Gray whales are split into two categories: those who live along the eastern side of the Pacific Ocean and those who live along the western side. Eastern gray whales are surviving much better than their western relatives. They were taken off the United States’ endangered species list in 1994 and are now considered to be “Recovered.” The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists them as “Least Concerned.”
The western gray whale is not so lucky. It is still listed as “Critically Endangered.” As of 2006, the estimated population was only 113-131 whales. Their numbers, however, are increasing.
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