More Calf Sightings Bring Hope for Endangered North Atlantic Right Whales

More sightings of North Atlantic right whale calves off the coast of New England are offering hope this critically endangered species may yet make a comeback with our help.

These whales were once nearly hunted to extinction, but even though they were kept safe from slaughter with a moratorium on commercial whaling and protected under the Endangered Species Act decades ago, they’ve yet to recover.

Today, there only estimated to be about 420 left in existence, and scientists have warned they could be functionally extinct by 2040 if we don’t take urgent action to save them.

Unfortunately, they continue to face a barrage of modern-day threats ranging from pollution and energy exploration to climate change, while entanglements in fishing gear and ship strikes are now believed to be the biggest threats to their survival.

Since the summer of 2017, 20 deaths have been documented off the coasts of the U.S. and Canada, which were pretty catastrophic for a population that’s so small, but combined with fewer births over the years the problem is even bigger and has raised concerns about their ability to withstand these ongoing pressures – none were spotted last year in their breeding grounds off the coasts of Florida and Georgia.

That changed, however, when the first one was spotted at the end of December. Since then, a total of seven have been seen bringing hope with each sighting.

Now, two more recent sightings of mother and calf pairs were made by the Center for Coastal Studies off the coast of Massachusetts, where they head each spring on their way north to Canadian waters. Those bring the total seen in New England waters to three this year.

TWO MORE RIGHT WHALE CALVES SPOTTED IN CAPE COD BAY!

On Thursday, April 11 the Center for Coastal Studies right whale…

Posted by Center for Coastal Studies on Friday, April 12, 2019

Charles “Stormy” Mayo, director of the Right Whale Ecology Program at the Center for Coastal Studies, told CNN it’s a “good sign” that the three calves made it all the way to Cape Cod Bay from where they were spotted in southern waters, adding that they had “made a ‘perilous’ journey, relationships with their mothers are well established, and now they are in the more protected waters they use as nursery grounds.”

While the newborns spotted this year have brought good reason to be optimistic about their survival, they’re still a long way from being safely on the road to recovery. The threats they face are still ongoing, and it remains to be seen just how much an effort we’ll make to ensuring their survival.

“The signs are better than they were last year or the year before, but we’re not out of the woods yet,” Philip Hamilton, a research scientist at the New England Aquarium’s Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life told The Scientist. ”We need an average calf count of 17 each year to build the population.”

While some changes have been made to reduce the risks of entanglements and ship strikes, they’re still facing the threat of climate change and other problems, including offshore energy exploration in the Atlantic.

Hopefully increased interest in their plight and pressure on governments in both the U.S. and Canada to enact meaningful restrictions on the threats to their survival will help them rebound. You can help by signing and sharing the petition urging Congress to take an important step to secure a future for right whales by passing the SAVE Right Whales Act.

Photo credit: Marine Mammal Commission

49 comments

Angela K
Angela K26 days ago

Petition already signed & shared

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Leo Custer
Leo Custer28 days ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Leo C
Leo Custer29 days ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Anne H
Past Member about a month ago

Important

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Glennis W
Glennis Whitneyabout a month ago

Thank you for caring and sharing

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Glennis W
Glennis Whitneyabout a month ago

Awesome Thank you for caring and sharing

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Glennis W
Glennis Whitneyabout a month ago

Wonderful Thank you for caring and sharing

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Glennis W
Glennis Whitneyabout a month ago

Thank you for caring and sharing

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Glennis W
Glennis Whitneyabout a month ago

Fantastic news Thank you for caring and sharing

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Nicky Heindryckx
Nicole Heindryckxabout a month ago

It's not only good news, but it is necessary that we read from time to time articles who give us hope for the future. Of course, I understand the danger is not over yet, but those new calves prove that the efforts taken by us and our Governments are really a must to protect these endangered species. Hopefully, the will be able to adapt to the change in climate and consequential increase of the temperature of the seawater, but also will have an influence on the available food.
What's the most important now? That we learn from the many mistakes we have made in the past and will no longer be the negligent selfish egoists we have been in the past. Nature took thousands of years to establish their own equilibrium, but we can ruin this in only some decades. Animals have not the weapons necessary to defend themselves. So we have to leave them alone, and stop doing whatever we want.
I really hope that this positive tendency will continue and that we will keep protecting them instead of killing them for some stupid, selfish reasons.
AND, not to forget to contribute our small, but most important effort by signing all the petitions we find to protect our wildlife. Even when we think these thousand signatures will not have an influence on these big issues, we must speak up for them, as they are the voiceless ones who so badly need each small contribution we can give them.

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