3 million whales were killed in the 20th century new study finds.

It is being called “the largest hunt in human history.”

Researchers tallied the number of whales that were killed as a result of advancements in hunting technology and illegal catches in the 20th century. The resulting study, Emptying the Oceans: A Summary of Industrial Whaling Catches in the 20th Century, says about 2.9 million whales were killed for commercial use between 1900 and 1999.

The new number may still be “an underestimate,” Dr. Howard Rosenbaum, director of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Ocean Giants Program, told NBC News. “The question is, given the state of today’s oceans and the status of some whales, can depleted populations recover to their pre-whaling, historic levels?”

While a 1986 moratorium on international whaling has led to a decrease in the number of whales killed, current populations are under new threats, such as military sonar, collisions with ships, and climate change.

March l4, 2015

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