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Help Protect Right Whales, Before It's Too Late March 25, 2006 3:35 PM

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Right whales are dying at a devastating rate.  Ship strikes and fishing gear entanglement are pushing these whales to the brink of extinction.  Please take action today and demand that the National Marine Fisheries Service implement emergency measures to help save the remaining right whales before it’s too late.

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Injured Right Whale - Must Credit NE Aquarium 

Right whale with wounds on its
back from a ship strike.

Photo courtesy of
the New England Aquarium

Northern right whales are the most endangered of all the great whales. There are only about 300 left in the Atlantic population, and the death of even one contributes to their risk of extinction. Shipping collisions and entanglement in fishing gear are the largest threats to these magnificent animals.

Two of the 19 calves born this season have been found dead, one from a ship strike and the other from entanglement in fishing gear. Another calf was recently found swimming erratically off the coast of Georgia with fresh propeller injuries, but appears to have survived for now.  Almost a year ago in exactly the same place, a yacht nearly sheared off the tail of an 11-year-old female.  That animal is also now thought to be dead.

For a species that is dangerously close to extinction, losing a single whale - let alone the 12 reported since January 2004 - is catastrophic. The scientific community and The Ocean Conservancy and its conservation partners agree that measures need to be put into place immediately to help protect the remaining whales from both ship strikes and entanglement in fishing gear.  Yet, for over a year now, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has refused to take this action.

  • Last spring we urged you to join us in asking for stronger protections against right whale entanglement in fishing gear through the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan.  Even though NMFS was legally required to finalize its entanglement rules by last fall, they still have not been put in place.

  • In the summer of 2004 we asked you to weigh in on NMFS’ plan to reduce vessel collisions with right whales.  Despite our continued urging and even federal litigation, NMFS has thus far failed to take action to implement regulations to avoid ship strikes. 

Without both sets of regulations, whales will continue to die.   We simply cannot afford to lose another one.  Please take action today and ask NMFS Director, Dr. Hogarth, to implement emergency measures to protect right whales before another tragedy occurs.


Kathleen McGoldrick



Kathleen McGoldrick
Vice President, Constituency and Outreach


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