The population of humpback whales has tripled in Brazil over the past decade, to the point that they now number some 10,000 specimens, a research institute said.

During the current reproduction season, close to 10,000 humpback whales have migrated to the Brazilian coasts from Antarctica, compared with about 3,000 in 2002, the Humpback Whale Institute said.

Some 90 percent of the species are concentrated around the Abrolhos Archipelago off the coasts of the eastern Brazilian states of Bahia and Espirito Santo.

At the beginning of the 20th century the humpback whale population was three times larger than it is now , but whale hunts decimated its numbers until only 1,000 were left by 1966, the year such hunts were banned, the institute's research director, Milton Marcondes, said in a statement.

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, whale oil was used for street lighting and as mortar in housing constrution.

Humpback whales feed in the Antarctic during the summer and migrate in the Southern Hemisphere winter to the tropical coasts of Brazil to mate, give birth and suckle their young. 

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