North Atlantic Right Whale | WCAI

North Atlantic Right Whale

U.S. Department of Commerce/ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/ National Marine Fisheries Service

Saturday marked the end of lobster fishing and the beginning of relative safety for critically endangered right whales in Cape Cod Bay.

From Feb. 1 to April 30,  no trap/pot gear or vertical lines are allowed in an area of over 3,000 square miles to protect North Atlantic right whales whose population has dwindled to around 400. 

The North Atlantic right whale population has a chance at recovery if entanglement & ship strikes can be avoided.
NOAA Photo Library / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Federal regulators are delaying the release of long-awaited regulations designed to protect the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale. 

The proposed regulations would push lobstermen throughout much of the Gulf of Maine to reduce their buoy lines, which have caused fatal entanglements for the whales. They were were expected to be issued by early 2020.  

The North Atlantic right whale population has a chance at recovery if entanglement & ship strikes can be avoided.
NOAA Photo Library / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

The federal government has committed $1.6 million dollars to help fishermen offset new regulations designed to protect North Atlantic right whales from entanglement in trap/pot gear.

Dead North Atlantic Right whale off the coast of Long Island, New York.
NY Department of Environmental Conservation

A group of international scientists are evaluating a new software tool that could help reduce the number of North Atlantic Right Whales dying from entanglement in rope and fishing gear. The tool weighs the relative risk of entanglement at different times of year, and in different places, against mitigation efforts.  

Dr.Pierre-Yves Dumont collects samples from a dead right whale in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in June 2017.
The Canadian Press/HO- Marine Animal Response Society / The Canadian Press/HO- Marine Animal Response Society

North Atlantic right whale conservationists have ended up exactly where they didn’t want to be – in an escalating battle between lobstermen and scientists.

Living Lab Radio: September 22 and 23, 2019.

Sep 22, 2019
The North Atlantic right whale population has a chance at recovery if entanglement & ship strikes can be avoided.
NOAA Photo Library / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Living Lab Radio for September 22 and 23, 2019.

The dead North Atlantic right whale found off the coast of New York has been identified as Snake Eyes, seen here on July 16, 2019.
Northeast Fisheries Science Center

More than a dozen scientists have signed a letter defending the science behind proposed measures to protect North Atlantic right whales. There are only about 400 of the critically endangered whales remaining, and their numbers are falling.

Dead North Atlantic Right whale off the coast of Long Island, New York.
NY Department of Environmental Conservation

The carcass of a critically endangered North Atlantic right whale was found off the coast of Long Island, New York on Tuesday, bringing the 2019 death toll to nine.

Announced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), it's the first documented carcass found in U.S. waters this year, with the remainder discovered in Canadian waters.

The North Atlantic right whale population has a chance at recovery if entanglement & ship strikes can be avoided.
NOAA Photo Library / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

The effort to protect endangered whales is taking federal officials on a listening tour from Maine, to Rhode Island, and Wednesday night, to Bourne, where nearly 200 people gathered in a high school cafeteria.

Infrared Cameras Could Help Ships Avoid Whales

Aug 4, 2019
Dan Zitterbart of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is developing thermal infrared cameras to help vessels avoid whale strikes.
Dan Zitterbart, WHOI

Eight critically endangered North Atlantic right whales have died this summer, several of them hit by ships.

In the last two years alone, 20 North Atlantic right whales have been found dead in Canadian waters. Of the 11 that could be studied, seven were found to have died as a result of vessel strikes.

That has prompted Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans to announce a new round of funding to develop better ways for ships to find whales and avoid hitting them. 

One of those technologies is thermal infrared imaging.

Entanglement in fishing gear is the suspected cause of death for some of the eight North Atlantic right whales found dead in recent weeks.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada / Fisheries and Oceans Canada

 

 

At the Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown, Christy Hudak, a researcher in the Right Whale Ecology Program, leaned over a microscope looking at a water sample, counting and categorizing different kinds of plankton.  

“Right whales love specific type of plankton, which are called copepods. They are more of a tiny  crustacean plankton—think of crabs, or shrimp,” Hudak said. 

Eve Zuckoff

In the last month, eight North Atlantic right whales have been found dead in Canada’s Gulf of St. Lawrence, including two members of the critically endangered species this past week.  

 

Canadian authorities say work to determine these new whales' cause of death is ongoing.

Whatever the cause of these latest deaths, researchers worry collisions with ships are increasingly to blame.

Punctuation - seen here with a calf in Cape Cod Bay in 2016 - was one of six North Atlantic right whales killed in the Gulf of St. Lawrence this month.
Center for Coastal Studies image taken under NOAA permit #14603-1.

Five North Atlantic right whales have been found dead in the past week – six this month. With just over four hundred individuals remaining, and calving rates low, that’s a death toll the critically endangered population can’t afford.

“Panicking seems appropriate, yes,” said Peter Corkeron, who leads the large whale research program at NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center.

Living Lab Radio: June 30, 2019

Jun 30, 2019

“With 24 candidates, there are 620 billion trillion possible rankings. When there are many candidates, there are many more ways for people to disagree than to agree.”     -Alexander Strang

Climate Change Forcing North Atlantic Right Whales to Search for Food

Jun 3, 2019
North Atlantic right whales are critically endangered.
Courtesy of The Center for Coastal Studies

North Atlantic right whales are critically endangered, with just over 400 individuals left, and their numbers declining. The leading causes of death are well-known: right whales are susceptible to being struck by ships, and over 83 percent have shown evidence of being entangled in fishing gear at one point or another.

But the population has also seen low reproductive rates and declining health status in recent years that can't necessarily be explained by those impacts. Now, new research points to another possible culprit: climate change.

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