People have been killing gray whales for hundreds of
years. Different cultures would kill the whales for food and tools. No part
of the whale was wasted. The problems started when people began killing whales
Before 1857, there were 15 thousand gray whales in the Pacific Ocean. Although, the hunting of whales was legal, the killing of gray whales was not widespread.
In 1857, Captain Charles Scammon
discovered a lagoon in Baja California where gray whales went to calve. The
shallow water of the lagoon made the gray whale easy prey for the whalers. A
drastic decline in the gray whale population resulted. By 1898, the gray whale
population was only 2,000. Fortunately for the gray whale, the demand for whale
oil and bone had also gone down. The whalers did not hunt the whale as often
and the whale population started to rise.
In 1925, a new boat was invented that made whaling a lot easier. It was called a factory boat. Look at the year 1946 on the graph.
In the early 1940's, gray whales were close to extinction. In 1946 the International Whaling Commission was formed. The IWC had laws passed that prohibited the killing of gray whales
Between 1946 and 1983 the whale population grew by 14,000,
or 500 per year. By 1983, there were 16,000 whales in the Pacific. By 1992,
the population was over 20,000.
The whale population is still growing today. In time, the population will stop growing. This will happen when the food supply can not feed any more whales