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Posted Wed Jun 30 2010: from PhysOrg:
World's smallest whale population faces extinction
The world's smallest known whale population has dwindled to about 30 individuals, only eight of them females, according to a study released Tuesday.... The Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska once teemed with tens of thousands of North Pacific right whales. But hunting in the 19th century wiped out most of them, with up to 30,000 slaughtered in the 1840s alone, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Poaching by the Soviet Union during the 1960s claimed several hundred more, making Eubalaena japonica probably the most endangered species of whale on Earth. "Its precarious status today ... is a direct consequence of uncontrolled and illegal whaling, and highlights the past failure of international management to prevent such abuse," said the study, published in the British Royal Society's Biology Letters.... "The probability of ship-strike mortalities may increase with the likely future opening of an ice-free Northwest Passage," the researchers note.
[Read more stories about: marine mammals, endangered list]

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