Endangered Right Whales Suffer Losses That Threaten Their Future Survival

North Atlantic right whales are now one of the most endangered whales on earth, and a string of recent deaths has raised questions about their future survival.

Once known as the “right” whale to kill because their slow movements and time spent at the surface made them easy targets, right whales were nearly decimated by whalers.

Despite an end to commercial whaling and further efforts to save them from extinction, they’ve yet to fully recover. Today, there are only estimated to be 350 individuals left in the Northwest Atlantic, while their global population is only estimated to be around 500, making each life incredibly precious.

They now typically spend their winters in the South before migrating North for the summer in the waters off New England and the Bay of Fundy, where they feed and nurse their calves.

Sadly, over the past few weeks, the bodies of six of these otherwise seemingly healthy whales were found in the Gulf of St. Lawrence – an area where they’re afforded less protection because they haven’t been sighted there as often until recent years.

Following the discoveries, scientists quickly launched an effort to figure out what happened to them and finally announced some of their findings.

Although the final results of the necropsies performed won’t be available for a few weeks, they found so far that two males had suffered from blunt traumas that caused bruising and internal bleeding, which was likely from being hit by a ship, while the third, a female, had suffered from entanglement in fishing gear.

According to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, only three of the bodies were fully examined because of the advanced state of decomposition of the others.

Even more concerning is that this week yet another right whale was found entangled in fishing gear in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Fortunately rescuers were able to save her.

Pierre-Yves Daoust of the Atlantic Veterinary College in Prince Edward Island, who led the necropsies, said a lack of a conclusive cause of death shouldn’t stop officials from working to prevent more deaths.

“We cannot wait to have another half dozen right whales killed either this summer or next summer before we start addressing this potential cause of mortality,” he told Global News.

His sentiments were echoed by others involved who believe the deaths should serve as a call to action to do more to prevent ship strike and entanglements, and learn more about where these whales are spending time now to limit activities that could harm them.

Hopefully swift action will be taken to help ensure these whales don’t move any closer to extinction.

Photo credit: NOAA

80 comments

Beryl L
Beryl Ludwig8 days ago

Always a good story thank you

SEND
Marie W
Marie Wabout a year ago

Thanks for sharing.

SEND
Melania Padilla
Melania Padilla1 years ago

Indeed, bad news for this species, and oceans as well :-(

SEND
heather g
heather g1 years ago

Canada really knows how to look after it's whales and wild life.......

SEND
Cindy M. D
Cindy M. D1 years ago

Well this just breaks my heart. We must learn to live peacefully and be protective of the beautiful animals we are fortunate enough to share this earth with. MAN must make the necessary adjustments so that wildlife will thrive. I totally agree with earthism info!! You have the right idea.

SEND
Camilla V
Camilla Vaga1 years ago

horrible

SEND
Nicole H

Rosslyn O : I said the same thing. Re-routing of oceangoing vessels should not be a problem. But, as I put in my comment (5 days ago) we, readers of this article, do not know whether any of these animals were tagged and whether the routes of the Right Whales is KNOWN. Re-routing / reducing speed is okay for me, but then Authorities must SAY WHERE !!

SEND
Margie F
Margie FOURIE1 years ago

Sad, it is all about humans wants.

SEND
Clare O
Clare O'Beara1 years ago

Whales carry nutrients around the oceans.

SEND
Clare O
Clare O'Beara1 years ago

Protected areas should be established where they can feed and breed

SEND