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Mystery of the Missing Humpbacks Solved by Soviet Data

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Science  29 May 2009:
Vol. 324, Issue 5931, pp. 1132
DOI: 10.1126/science.324_1132

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A paper in Marine Fisheries Review concludes that the high number of unreported catches by Soviet whalers of humpbacks in the Southern Ocean decimated this population so severely that unlike humpback populations elsewhere, it has not yet recovered. These revelations have implications for the management of whale populations today, for the paper and an accompanying commentary come at a time when the International Whaling Commission, the primary body for the global conservation and management of whales, is itself at a crossroads, divided between pro- and antiwhaling factions.