The marine mammals virtually disappeared due to aggressive harpoon hunts in the 19th and early 20th centuries, leaving only about 1,000 left by 1966.
That was the year such hunts were banned. The Humpback Whale Institute announced that nearly 11,500 humpback whales were counted off Brazil this year, compared to 3,400 counted during the first scientific census 10 years ago.
Since 1987, Brazil has encouraged fishermen to steer clear of whale-breeding grounds and from areas where the aquatic giants could get caught in nets with their calves.
Despite the rebound, experts say the total number of humpbacks is only about 27 percent of what roamed the world’s oceans before global whaling fleets nearly hunted them into extinction.
Photo: Doug Perrine - NOAA