Help Prevent the Extinction of the North Atlantic Right Whale

Commercial whaling began in the 1800s and almost drove all species of whales to extinction. Many have still not fully recovered and are listed as endangered.

That includes the North Atlantic right whale, which is one of the rarest marine mammal species. Only about 450 of these whales still exist.

In what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) called an “unusual mortality event,” 17 North Atlantic right whales have been found dead off the coasts of New England and Canada so far this year. 

NOAA’s Endangered Species Act consultant Mark Murray-Brown declared last month that unless American and Canadian officials didn’t work to protect the endangered whales, the North Atlantic right whale could soon go extinct. 

These deaths occurred as these magnificent creatures were making their annual 1,000-mile journey from their feeding grounds off Canada and New England to the warmer waters off the coasts of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.

It should be noted that these whales once had two separate populations, western and eastern, but scientists believe the eastern population is either nearly or completely extinct

Now the western population of the North Atlantic right whale, is also under siege.

The North Atlantic right whale, which can weigh up to 150,000 pounds and measure as long as 48 feet, are baleen whales: They take huge gulps of water and then use baleen plates to filter out the zooplankton and krill that they eat. Each side of their mouth has around 225 baleen plates, which can be as long as 8 feet, and they may take in as much as 2,600 pounds of zooplankton every day during their feeding season (spring to fall).

As they make their journey south, there are two main threats to their lives: commercial fishing vessels and fishing gear.

Of the dead right whales found this year, six were killed by blunt-force trauma, which NOAA believes was caused by collision with fishing vessels. Five right whales were reportedly freed from entanglements in fishing nets in 2017; of these three are still alive, but two have died.

The good news is that work has begun on managing commercial fishing methods to protect the whales. 

There has been a reduction in the number of whales colliding with boats, and vessels 65 feet or longer are now required to slow to no more than 10 knots in certain parts of the East Coast during the right whale birthing season (November to April).

In addition, restrictions have been put in place on where commercial traps and gill net gear can be set up, and there are some seasonal closures.

Yet in spite of these improvements, as Murray-Brown noted, given the low birth rate of these creatures, “the current status of right whales is a critical situation,” and so we must continue to be vigilant if we want to prevent the extinction of these whales.

He urges that if marine biologists and commercial fishing companies work together to track the whales, to change vessel routes to avoid collisions as necessary, to add brighter lights to fishing gear and to continue monitoring line placement, then the right whales don’t have to die out.

Take Action!

If you agree, please sign the Care2 petition, calling on Daniel M. Ashe, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, to continue to improve the management of commercial fishing methods to make conditions safer for North Atlantic right whales, so that they are no longer under the threat of extinction.

 

Photo Credit: NOAA

60 comments

Mike R
Mike R4 months ago

Signed. Thanks

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Lorraine Andersen
Lorraine Andersen4 months ago

Signed. We definitely need to find a way to save our whales.

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Nicole H
Nicole Heindryckx4 months ago

Another thought on this matter. Stop eating fish !!! Why do Japanese ships go all over the world and fish what they want ?? Why do we eat all kind of "foreign" fish, coming from Africa, Australia, etc.. when there WAS fish enough in our seas. And we also have our local shellfish, in Holland and France, which are transported by fridge trucks or fridge trains. No collisions with fish causing millions to die....
The overpopulation is a big cause of all the misery we see. And where States / Countries have a high living standard, we eat 2 x or even 3 x as much as we need. These people mainly are killing all other animals to feed themselves instead of investing in anti conception in China, India, etc... When the animals can no longer cope with our needs, may be then we will stop breeding like rabbits - sorry for the crude expression, but it is the truth !! Why do we need triple burgers ?? 3 or 4 donuts a man, and mega big portions of french fries. And why do we need steaks of 300 grams, and at least 300 grams of fish as well ?? And why eating a pizza or snacks at 10.00 pm. in the evening.... If Western population should eat half of his usual portions today, less people would go hungry in the rest of the world. We are now buying a lot of their products for our consumption, while they have nearly nothing left. But multinationals pay more than the locals, so that's the answer !!

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Nicole H
Nicole Heindryckx4 months ago

@ CRUEL J : WHY NOT STOP EATING AT ALL !!!!!! Then we will not need mega big ocean going vessels who kill tuna, sharks, whales, and many many more other fish due to collision. I'm sure that if we turned the clock back 50 years, we could not eat all kind of vegetables and fruits the year around, as it is now. In Northern W. Europe, in wintertime, you only have apples and pears (which have been stored for months and months and months to keep them fresh and crunchy which was not the fact neither 50 years ago) Vegetables would mainly be sprouts, green and white and red cowls, carrots, potatoes (also stored in warehouses), and a few others. I remember when I was a child, the apples and pears were all wrinkled, not crunchy and not juicy. But it was "take it or leave it". And with X-mas, we were ecstatic because it was the only moment in the winter that we had some oranges.... as a christmas gift. And when we become ALL vegans, the transport of vegetables and fruits will even increase drastically, killing even more fish at sea due to collisions !!! Good hè !!!

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Nicole H
Nicole Heindryckx4 months ago

Of course I agree that more severe / intelligent precautions MUST be taken, both by the fishery and commercial shipping companies to avoid further killing of the North Atlantic Right whale. I do not understand that commercial and fishing ships can not be equipped with more exact material to see the whales from many many miles away, so that vessels can reduce speed and alter their route for a certain time, until the whales have passed. These whales do not swim one by one, they migrate only during a certain period of time, and in certain routes. Then why are there no better electronic devices to see them on a specialized radar. For the military, all kind of electronic toys can be made to pinpoint the exact location of the "enemies". And when will we BAN gil nets. It are not only whales who are victimized, but also tuna, sharks and other large sized species. But the industry must go on. Japan and China must have their fresh fish, no matter what. There is ONE thing we have to keep in mind : once they have disappeared, it is for ALWAYS !! If NO ACTION is taken NOW, it will be too late. It are no rabbits, with 2/3 litters of 7/9 babies each year !!! DO SOMETHING AND DO IT NOW !!!

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Peggy B
Peggy B4 months ago

signed PREVIOUSLY.

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Jetana A
Jetana A4 months ago

Signed, or resigned, petition.

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Veronica Danie
Veronica Danie4 months ago

Thank you so very much.

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Veronica Danie
Veronica Danie4 months ago

Thank you so very much.

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Veronica Danie
Veronica Danie4 months ago

Thank you so very much.

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