MNN Galleries

8 animals pulled back from the brink of extinction

June 25, 2014, 1:58 p.m.
Humpback whale

Photo: Whit Welles/Wikimedia Commons

6 of 10

Humpback whale

Like most of the great species of baleen whale, humpbacks were decimated by commercial whaling that occurred worldwide before the 1980s. Estimates say populations of these majestic, harmless beasts were reduced to just 2 percent of their original numbers. Thanks to an international ban on whaling, however, numbers have steadily bounced back. The worldwide humpback population is now at least 80,000. Though that's still a far cry from historical numbers, these whales are safely on their way back.