Most humpback whales that frequent Pacific Northwest to continue to receive endangered protections

The Comeback Humpback known as Windy breaches in the Salish Sea. Photo by Naturalist Tasli Shaw_Steveston Seabreeze Adventures_Steveston BC

The Comeback Humpback known as Windy breaches in the Salish Sea. Photo by Naturalist Tasli Shaw_Steveston Seabreeze Adventures_Steveston BC

HONOLULU (AP) — Humpback whales that frequent California, the Pacific Northwest, Mexico and Central America will continue to receive Endangered Species Act protections.

But the National Marine Fisheries Service on Monday said it’s taking most other humpback whale populations around the world off the endangered list. The agency cited the animal’s recovery after the end of commercial whaling decades ago for the change.

Humpbacks that breed in Central America and feed up north, however, are being listed as endangered. Those that breed in Mexico and feed in the north will also be listed as threatened.

Fisheries Service Endangered Species Act listing coordinator Marta Nammack says the Mexico population numbers just 3,200. The Central American population is estimated at only about 400.

In contrast, more than 11,000 humpback whales breed in Hawaii waters. They are being taken off the list.