US officials have informed that, unless we take critical action, it’s highly possible that rare North Atlantic right whales could become obsolete. 2017 has been a dangerous year for the already risked species according to calculations only 450 individuals were remaining, and 17 of them died over the past 12 months.
Investigators aren’t completely sure what’s creating the population to decline so rapidly, but two of the most commonly cited causes of death are being struck by boats and getting tangled up in fishing nets and other gear.
To make matter severer, 2017 was also a weak reproductive year for the whales, there are only approximately 100 breeding females left, and they’re dying off faster than males, which means it’s going to be challenging to rebuild population numbers. Scientists don’t use the term extinction casually, but at a meeting of the governing New England Fishery Management Council last week, a spokesperson for the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) stated that’s the reality we are now suffering.
“You do have to use the extinction word because that’s where the trend lines say the species are,” said John Bullard, the Northeast regional administrator for NOAA Fisheries. Recent scientific research has shed some light on why whale deaths have encountered an upward tick. One study, issued in the journal Nature Scientific Reports, said that the whales move around much more than earlier thought. Some experts have announced that whales might be venturing out of preserved areas in hunt of food, putting themselves in harm’s way.
In another investigation, published last month in the journal Endangered Species Research, specialists considered right whale faeces and found whales that experience lengthy complications in fishing gear produce hormone levels that show high stress. The stress negatively affects their ability to reproduce even when they survive entanglement, experts said.
Mark Murray-Brown, an Endangered Species Act consultant for NOAA, stated right whales have been decreasing in excess since 2010, with females hit harder than males.
The US and Canada must act to decrease the human-caused deaths of the whales, Murray-Brown told. Vessel-strikes and entanglement in fishing equipment are two commonly mentioned causes of the whales’ deaths.