North Atlantic right whales are in poor condition

Posted by Imogen Searra on 26 May 2020

The North Atlantic right whales have made headlines around the globe for all the wrong reasons. These animals are facing extinction, with only 409 individuals remaining in the wild, according to NAWRC.

A new study has shed a grim light on these animals once again, as the condition in which they are in is worrying. The study compared the condition of these animals to their counterparts, the Southern right whale, which frequent South Africa’s waters.

Marine ecophysiologist Fredrik Christiansen, has been studying the species migratory paths and has used drones to compare the conditions of both animals, according to National Geographic

Speaking to National Geographic, Christiansen said that the North Atlantic right whale was ‘impressively skinny’ in comparison to the southern right.

Spearheading the whale research team at the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life and the study co-author Peter Corkeron explained that if interventions aren’t made, the species will be lost entirely within the next 20 years.

There are three main factors contributing to the rapid decline in this species. Entanglement in fishing lines, nets and other equipment. Between 2017 and 2020, seven whales were killed by fishing equipment. Having to drag around the equipment cases the animal to lose unnecessary weight.

The second factor is collisions with ships. The third is global warming and an increase in ocean temperatures. Their main food source, a tiny crustacean called copepods, have moved away from their normal habitat. This forces the whales to move too, away from safe, protected marine areas. This results in collisions with ships and entanglement incidences.


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“It’s horrifying that humans are the reason the iconic North Atlantic right whale is on the brink of extinction. Yet in one meaningful way, it’s also encouraging. If we are the cause, we can choose to be the solution,” writes @bostonglobe’s editorial board. Entanglement in fishing gear, injuries from vessel strikes, and the impacts of climate change threaten the very survival of the North Atlantic right whale. With around 400 of these whales remaining, we must act urgently to save this species. ⠀ ⠀ Speak up for whales today by visiting to urge Congress to support the bipartisan Scientific Assistance for Very Endangered (SAVE) Right Whales Act! (link in bio)⠀ ⠀ 📷 Photo by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, taken under NOAA permit 20556-01⠀ ⠀ #animalwelfare #animalwelfareinstitute #saverightwhales #rightwhale #rightwhales #rightwhaletosave #congress #takeaction #savethewhales #marinemammals #entanglement #whalelover #whales #whalesofinstagram #marineconservation #marinelife #animalsofinstagram #endangeredspecies #stopextinction #actonclimate #endextinction #northatlanticrightwhale #northatlanticrightwhales #extinctionisforever

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The right whales get their name from whaler who deemed them ‘right’ for hunting. This is due to the high content of oil the fat of these animals can provide, they are slow swimmers, float when harpooned and tend to wade in waters close to the shore.

Whaling over the 11th-20th century saw the populations of all three species of right whales (North Atlantic, North Pacific, and southern) deplete within 5% of their original population, according to National Geographic.

Today, the southern right whale is classified as a least concern species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). This is a result of many international bans on whaling.

While the northern right whale is also protected, these animals are often killed by ship collisions that take place on their migratory routes. These whales are also vulnerable to getting caught in fishing equipment.


Image credit: Instagram/awionline

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