Humpback Whales to Remain on MA Endangered Species List

Humpback whales feeding on Stellwagen Bank. Photo Tom Richardson

The Massachusetts governor’s office has withdrawn its proposal to remove the humpback whale from the state’s Endangered Species List, heeding the advice of conservation groups who say that the whales remain in need of protection.

Humpback whales were first added to the federal Endangered Species List in 1970, when their numbers were thought to be as low as 10,000 individuals worldwide. Today, the world’s humpback population is estimated at around 80,000 whales, although many animals still die due to ship strikes and entanglement with fishing gear.

Most humpback whale populations were removed from the federal Endangered Species List in 2016. The whales gather en masse each year to feed on Stellwagen Bank and other nearshore areas, fueling a lucrative whale-watch and tourism industry.