Alex Zerbini from the NOAA Marine Mammal Laboratory with the help of Grant Adams and John Best, PhD students in the Punt Lab, recently published an article in Royal Society Open Science on the population dynamics of Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) in western South Atlantic. They used multi-model Bayesian assessment that integrated multiple sources of catch data, estimates of abundance, model assumptions, and information on genetics and biology to assess their recovery. They estimated that a long period of exploitation drove western South Atlantic humpback whales to the brink of extinction, from nearly 27,000 individuals in 1830 to only 450 whales in the mid-1950s. Protection has led to a strong recovery and the current population is estimated to be at 93% of its pre-exploitation size.
This research was recently featured on BBC.
Zerbini, A., G. Adams, J. Best, P. Clapham, J. Jackson, & A. Punt. 2019 Assessing the recovery of an Antarctic predator from historical exploitation. R. Soc. open sci. 6: 190368. http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsos.190368