Western gray whales were thought to be extinct as recently as 1972 (Bowen 1974), but a small number are now known to survive (Berzin 1974, Weller et al. 2002); the best estimate for 2006 is 113-131 animals, of which 26-35 are reproductive females, based on an analysis of photo-identification data (Cooke et al. 2006). The figures include adjustments for the photo-identified whales that are likely to have died and for the estimated number of living whales that have yet to be catalogued. In the absence of additional new mortality in excess of the estimated rate over 1994-2004, the population size is projected to increase at 2-4% per annum (Cooke et al. 2006). However, even a very small number of additional annual female deaths will cause the subpopulation to decline.
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