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The world’s 126 marine mammal species are increasingly threatened due to climate change, overfishing, noise pollution, and other issues affecting their population numbers, according to a University of Exeter-led team in a recently-published paper in the journal Endangered Species Research.

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Duke Marine Robotics and Remote Sensing Lab

But certain interventions, such as hunting bans and conservation efforts by different countries, have also brought some marine species back from the brink, according to the researchers.

Here are 4 marine mammals bouncing back from extinction, and a few ways that we can save even more.

Craig Hayslip, Marine Mammal Institute, Oregon State University

4. Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae)

Rob Harcourt

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Humpback whales were once doomed to extinction, but a ban on commercial hunting in 1985 led to a remarkable recovery. Some 25,000 humpback whales now live in the wild, a remarkable recovery from just 450 whales 70 years ago.

3. Guadalupe fur seals (Arctocephalus townsendi)

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Scientists mistakenly declared this seal extinct in 1928 due to hunting, but it was rediscovered in 1954. Subsequent efforts to protect the seal’s home on the Isla Guadalupe paved the way to a full recovery, and the seal is no longer considered endangered.

2. Northern elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris)

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Named for its huge size and trunk-like nose, there were just 100 northern elephant seals left in 1910. They were even mistakenly declared extinct in the 1880s. The seals have made a remarkable comeback, recovering to their original population size before human hunting.

1. West Indian manatees (Trichechus manatus)

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Although the adorable creatures nicknamed “sea cows” are considered vulnerable by the IUCN, and manatee deaths have been high in Florida this year, conservation efforts centered around the West Indian manatee mean that the species will likely be safe from extinction in the near future, scientists say.

IUCN Red List

However, researchers note that 21 percent of marine mammals lack sufficient data on the IUCN Red List of threatened species, hindering conservation efforts.

Scientists say there’s one critical way the general public can save these animals — by practicing “citizen science” through our smartphones.

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According to the scientists, open-access databases and mobile apps like those used in India, Australia, and Vietnam have helped volunteers provide data on marine mammal sightings, track migrating humpback whales, and even record new species of cetaceans, respectively.

You can help conservationists by logging marine mammal sightings on apps like Whale Alert, Dolphin and Whale 911, Beach Track, SEAFARI, Whale Track, Happywhale, and SIREN.

Read more animal stories.

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