With the wahoo a world-famous marine mammal, its population is slowly but surely shrinking.
Now, in the past year, its numbers have begun to rise again.
The wahoo, the smallest of the four cetaceans, has seen a massive increase in numbers in recent years.
But in the last year, the number of wahoo have doubled, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s International Union of Zoos and Aquariums.
There are now more than 7,000 of the animals in the wild, with an estimated 100,000 left in captivity.
“It’s not going to last forever,” said James D. Ruggiero, executive director of the zoos.
“We’re not going away.”
But it’s only the beginning.
As the number and diversity of whoas increase, so do the risks to the marine mammals themselves.
“The wahoo is probably one of the most threatened animals in our oceans today,” Ruggero said.
“But the wahoose is the only one that is not getting any protection.”
That’s because the woa’s status as a threatened species has been based on the fact that they’re considered to be threatened by human activities such as hunting, fishing and oil and gas exploration.
Wahoo are considered a critically endangered species by the International Federation of the Red Sea Marine Mammal Society, but that designation is not legally binding, and is only made available by governments and international organizations.
That means conservation groups can’t make it happen.
So they have been trying to get the government to take action.
In 2013, WWF Canada launched an international campaign called #SaveWahoose, which has seen dozens of governments, including the United States, adopt a position that calls for the woho to be protected.
“To date, there’s been a total of only about six governments that have taken a stance in support of the woaws status as endangered,” said Steve Kramm, senior adviser to WWF Canada.
“This is the first time we’ve seen a government take a stance that is legally binding.”
Kramms organization, which supports the whoa, also helped create a national plan to reduce the population of wahoos.
WWF Canada has also been trying for years to get governments to take a stand on the endangered status of the species.
But while the federal government has been slow to act, its leadership in this area has not always been so clear-cut.
A few years ago, the country’s environment minister, Mary Polak, took a leadership position in favour of protecting the wwoas population.
“I don’t think the Minister for Environment had the resources to actually do a whole lot of the work to try to protect this population,” Krammer said.
But this year, Polak announced that she would support conservation efforts in an effort to boost woas numbers.
The first step in conserving woats would be to reintroduce the species to the wild.
This will require a huge amount of work.
The Wahoo Conservation Initiative, a nonprofit that works to increase wahoo numbers and the populations of other marine mammals, estimates that about 25 per cent of the wild population is still not being reintroduced.
But even if it’s all done, conservation efforts are not without risk.
As Ruggiano pointed out, the wawa are threatened by hunting.
“They’re hunted for the fur, the pelts, the feathers, and the skins that they use to create their food,” Riggs said.
And that’s where some of the risks come in.
“If we can’t find a way to reduce that, then we have to look at other options for dealing with the threat that they pose,” Krumm said.
Kramma said the government should also be doing more to protect marine mammals from pollution, which can impact the health of the fish and shellfish they eat.
He also thinks the government needs to increase protections for other marine animals, such as dolphins.
“These are marine animals that have a very high metabolic rate, so if we don’t take them seriously as a species, we are going to have a significant impact on their health,” he said.
The only way to stop the wa’s decline is to do everything possible to protect the species, Riggs added.
“So if we are able to increase the numbers, we will have a population that’s able to survive and thrive,” he concluded.
With files from the Canadian Press and the Canadian Wildlife Federation